JOHNS CREEK, G.A. — The Georgia women’s golf team opened its season with an impressive victory in the Cardinal Kickoff Classic at Atlanta Athletic Club on Tuesday September 8th, 2015. The Bulldogs covered the one-day, 36-hole event in even-par 576 and placed seven golfers among the top-12 individual finishers.
All 10 golfers on the Georgia roster competed, with the Bulldogs’ “red” team claiming a 15-shot victory and the “black” squad finishing fifth. Louisville was second, while Tennessee was third, three strokes behind the Cardinals.
“It’s a good way to start the year,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “You come in and you want to win, but you never know how the team is going to respond. We’ve been playing well and, from my perspective, it was nice to see it carry over. Exactly what they’ve done in qualifying, they did playing tournament golf.”
Individually, junior Harang Lee paced Georgia by finishing second at 5-under 139, while senior Manuela Carbajo Ré placed fourth at 148. The three members of the Bulldogs’ highly touted freshmen class all turned in solid performances, with Rinko Mitsunaga finishing fifth at 149 and Jillian Hollis and Bailey Tardy tying for seventh at 150.
“If you want to win big-time golf, if you want to win an SEC Championship a national title, you have to have five players,” Brewer said. “We had that today. It’s a great start.”
Junior Mary Ellen Shuman led UGA’s black team by tying for ninth at 151 and sophomore Isabella Skinner finished 12th at 152.
“We need depth,” Brewer said. “Some time this year, our players who weren’t in our top-five today are going to need to step up. They’re just going to make everyone better. That’s very key for us.”
The Bulldogs opened up a six-shot lead following a 4-over 292 in the morning. Georgia carded a 4-under 284 in the afternoon.
Tardy covered her home course at 4-under 68 to lead Georgia in the first round. She bogeyed her opening hole but then birdied No. 2, No. 4 and No. 9 to turn at 2-under. Tardy notched additional birdies at No. 11 and No. 13 before completing the day with five consecutive pars.
Lee also posted a red number in her first loop. She birdied three of her final four holes in the morning en route to a 1-under 71 and backed that up with a 4-under 68. Lee teed off from No. 2 with the shotgun start. In the afternoon, she covered her first 11 holes at 5-under, with birdies at No. 3, No. 6, No. 8, No 11 and No. 12. Lee gave a stroke back at No. 16 but quickly regained that with a birdie at No. 17. She dropped out of a tie for the individual title with a three-putt at No. 1, her final hole.
“I was just being patient in both rounds and trying to do my best,” Lee said. “I finished my last four holes of the morning round with three birdies so I had some good momentum. I was hitting it well and putting well. I was confident in the afternoon.”
“Harang played 36 holes of great golf,” Brewer said. “She’s been playing well all summer, and it was nice to see her translate that to college golf.”
Carbajo Ré signed for a 2-under 70 and Hollis posted a 72 in the afternoon.
Historically, Lee’s 5-under score equals the sixth-best individual effort in Georgia history, while the 4-under 284 tied the eighth-best team round ever by Bulldog golfers.
The Bulldogs will return to action this weekend when they compete in the College of Charleston’s Cougar Classic at Yeamans Hall Club on Sunday-Tuesday.
“We’ll ride this momentum,” Brewer said. “We’ll go right to Charleston and hopefully we’ll have the same feeling coming down the stretch there, another chance to win a golf tournament.”
“To win today was awesome for us,” Lee said. “We’re leaving this Friday for Charleston for our next tournament. Knowing that we’re playing well gives us a lot of confidence.”