BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Senior Jo Hua Hung fired a 5-under 67 to vault to fourth place individually in the final round of stroke play qualifying at the SEC Women’s Golf Championships. Georgia carded a 7-over 295 on Friday, the Bulldogs’ best round of the tournament, but finished 10th and failed to advance to the weekend’s eight-team match play bracket.
Due to the weather forecast for the weekend, Friday’s round was altered to feature a shotgun start.
Hung teed off from No. 15 and proceeded to make six birdies and one bogey during her loop. She converted on her first birdie of the day at No. 18 and followed that with two more at No. 3 and No. 4. After her lone negative result at No. 9, Hung bounced back to string together three more birdies at No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12.
“I really enjoyed my round today,” Hung said. “My strategy was aggressive because I know the mistake I’d made the last two days was always being too conservative. Before I teed off, I actually went through every hole location to see where I could be aggressive. I think I had the right strategy, and I was able to execute pretty well too.”
Hung recorded her fifth top-5 individual finish on the season while also posting her team-leading 15th par-or-better tally in 29 rounds.
Hung wasn’t the only Bulldog making birdies. Georgia began the round in 13th place but gradually climbed to eighth. While Hung was birdieing No. 3 and No. 4, Caterina Don notched birdies at No. 6 and No. 7. That momentum was thwarted when the Bulldogs combined to play No. 9 at 6-over as a team.
Georgia fought back, however. After only making three birdies on the back nine on Wednesday and Thursday, the Bulldogs posted nine red numbers on Friday and climbed to within a spot in match play before slipping back to 10th late in the round.
“We had two runs,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We started really well, which had been waiting on to happen. We had a major bump that made it look like it might be over but credit to them, they fought and got back in position again. You’ve just got to finish. The hard part about chasing, especially when you’re in a conference like the SEC, is you can’t make mistakes. Everyone is so good. We were close.”
In addition to Hung’s tally, the Bulldogs also counted a 75 from Don, a 76 from Jenny Bae and a 77 from LoraLie Cowart.
Hung wrapped up her 54 holes at 2-under 214, eight shots back of medalist Ingrid Lindblad of LSU. Also for Georgia, Don tied for 34th at 224, Bae tied for 45th at 226, Cowart placed 53rd at 229 and Candice Mahé, who shot 81 on Friday, tied for 64th at 237.
No. 20 Auburn led the teams advancing to match play followed by No. 14 LSU, No. 3 South Carolina, No. 23 Ole Miss, No. 10 Florida, No. 9 Alabama, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
Georgia will now await a bid to one of six NCAA Regional sites. The fields for Regionals will be announced on Wednesday, April 27.
Playing with an adjusted lineup due to health and safety protocols, Georgia finished 14th at last spring’s SEC Championships but bounced back to sweep the team and individual titles at the NCAA Columbus Regional and reach the NCAA Championships.
“We struggled here last year and then went and won a Regional,” Brewer said. “That’s how we’ve got to approach the next couple of weeks to get ready for an NCAA Regional.”
Last November, the NCAA announced the move to a six-regional format effective with the 2022 Championships. Each of the six regional sites will feature 12 teams and six individuals, with the top-four teams and top-two individuals (not on an advancing team) qualifying for the Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz. This year’s Regionals will be contested on May 9-11 in Albuquerque, N.M.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Franklin, Tenn.; Stanford, Calif.; Stillwater, Okla.; and Tallahassee, Fla.