Georgia picked up its first victory of the 2019-20 season and Mercer and Augusta each scored runner-up finishes to highlight the early stages of the Spring college season for Georgia’s Division 1 women’s teams.
The Bulldogs collected a title in the Gold Rush event in Seal Beach, Calif., scoring a resounding victory over a field that lacked for a top nationally-ranked opponent. Georgia won the tournament by 23 strokes over Fresno State with a 1-under 863 total,, and the team’s margin could have been larger.
Freshman Celeste Dao,who finished sixth in the team’s qualifier for the tournament, was the medalist in the Gold Rush, competing as an individual. Dao’s scores did not count toward the team’s total, but her 54-hole score for the tournament was one shot better than fellow Georgia freshman Caterina Don.
Dao posted scores of 71-70-68 for a 7-undere 209 total. Don shot 72-71-67 to take second at 210. Also finishing in the top 10 for Georgia was sophomore Jo Hua Hung, who tied for fourth at 215, and freshman Candice Mahe, who tied for 10that 221. The four golfers came to Georgia from Canada (Dao), Italy (Don), Taiwan (Hung) and France (Mahe).
Sophomore Jenny Bae of Lawrenceville and freshman Caroline Craig of Sautee Nacoochee both tied for 21stat 221. Both contributed two counting scores, with Craig opening with scores of 73-74 and Bae closing with rounds of 75-72.
Georgia held slim leads over Fresno State after each of the first two rounds, shooting 1-under 287 in the morning the first day to lead by four, and following with a 295 in the afternoon as Fresno closed within one. The Bulldogs finished with a 7-under 281 score the next day, with all four of the team’s counting scores even par or better. Georgia’s team score that day was 15 shots better than the next lowest total.
The Bulldogs opened the Spring season earlier in February, finishing eighth in a 15-team field with a score of 883, 19 behind tournament winner Northwestern. Bae and Don led Georgia, tying for 8that 220, with Bae posting scores of 71-74-75. Don shot a 71 in the second round and Hung closed with a 70, as Georgia managed just one score of par or better in each round. The team’s low score was a 292 in the first round.
With its win in California, Georgia advanced from 40thin the national rankings by Golfstat to 29th. The Bulldogs play three tournaments this month, including the annual Liz Murphey Collegiate March 20-22 at the UGA course.
AUGUSTA, which sports an all-international starting five, placed ahead of the Bulldogs in seventh in Puerto Rico to start the season before taking second the following week in an event in Melbourne, Fla. The Jaguars shot 883, two shots better than Georgia, in Puerto Rico, placing three players in the top 25, led by freshman Marie Villanueva of Span, who tied for 16that 219.
The Jaguars shot 6-under 282 the final day, led by junior Teresa Diaz-Moliner of Spain with a 69. Senior Linda Lundqvist of Sweden shot a 70 and Villanueva added a 71.
Augusta finished just three shots behind Mississippi in Melbourne, finishing at 3-under 861 with scores of 288-289-284. Lundqvist shot a final round 69 and tied for third at 5-under 211. Freshman Napabhach Boon-In of Thailand tied for 14that 217, matching Lundqvist with a pair of 71s the first day. Diez-Moliner shot 67 in the final round to tie for 21stat 218.The Jaguars will host the Valspar Augusta Invitational at Forest Hills March 14-15, and will play in the Liz Murphey Collegiate the following week.
MERCER hosted a tournament at Reynolds Landing at Lake Oconee for its Spring opener, and placed second behind Auburn, which ran away from the field to win by 26 shots.
The Bears shot 293 in the opening round to tie Auburn for the lead, but the Tigers pulled away the next day. Mercer shot 882 for the tournament with scores of 293-299-290.
Mercer was led by the Georgia trio of seniors Payton Schanen of Alpharetta and Lauren Lightfritz of Cumming and sophomore Carol Pyon of Macon, who finished 8th, 16thand 11threspectively. Schanen shot 219 for 54 holes with scores of 71 in the first and third rounds. Pyon shot 73-75-72 for a 220 total, with Lightfritz next at 221 with scores of 74-74-73.
The Bears host one more tournament this Spring, playing April 6-7 at the Brickyard in Macon.
GEORGIA STATE andGEORGIA SOUTHERN both opened their Spring schedules in Amelia Island, Fla., with State tying for fifth out of 15 teams at 887, and Southern taking eighth at 890.
The Panthers shot 1-under 287 in the final round, led by junior Chloe Howard, who closed with a 69 to tie for ninth at 216. Freshman Jenny Marston shot 70 in the final round to place 11that 217. Georgia State will host the annual John Kirk Panther Intercollegiate March 29-31 at Eagle’s Landing.
The Eagles also shot under par in the final round, posting a 2-under 286 total. Freshman Alberte Thuesen of Denmark shot 67 in the third round to tie for ninth at 216. Senior Ella Ofstedahl tied for 19that 220, with sophomore Madison Heineman T25 at 222.
Georgia Southern will make two home state appearances in March, competing at Forest Hills in Augusta March 14-15 and at Eagle’s Landing March 29-31 in an event hosted by Georgia State.