April 21, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The South Carolina women's golf team made a charge up the leaderboard in the final round of the SEC Championship on Sunday, shooting a 303 (+15) to finish in third place at Greystone Golf Club.
The Gamecocks, who began the day in sixth place, wrapped up the weekend with a total of 918 (+54). The third-place finish is Carolina's highest SEC Championship finish since winning the event in 2002.
The course played extremely tough throughout the weekend, with the average score for the tournament ballooning to 78.31. Sophomore Justine Dreher and freshman Sarah Schmelzel battled through the conditions and the challenging pin placements to secure top-10 finishes for the Gamecocks. Dreher recorded a career-best tie for third finish with a total of 226 (+10), while Schmelzel tied for eighth with a total of 228 (+12).
"We just hung around. This golf course was all about hanging around. It played very difficult," South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. "I'm really proud of the group. We had two Gamecocks in the top 10, which is huge for us. We hung in there and wrapped it up the way we needed to and finished in the top three. It's great momentum for us heading into regionals."
Dreher posted a final-round 76 (+4) despite a rocky start. After a birdie on the third hole, she made bogey, double bogey and another bogey on the next three holes to drop back to 3-over. However, she played her final 12 holes at 1-over to concluded the round with a 76.
Schmelzel also carded a 76 (+4) on the afternoon. Her round included two birdies and six bogeys as she earned her second top-10 finish of the season.
Freshman Mary Fran Hillow and senior Meredith Swanson both came up big for the Gamecocks with rounds of 75 (+3) and 76 (+4), respectively. Hillow closed out the week in 63rd place with a total of 244 (+28), while Swanson tied for 37th with a total of 235 (+19).
Junior Suzie Lee posted a 79 (+7) on Sunday to finish in a tie for 28th with a total of 233 (+17).
Second-ranked Alabama won the title with a total of 899 (+35), followed by Georgia (913), the Gamecocks, Vanderbilt (919), Kentucky (922) and Mississippi State (922). The Crimson Tide's Stephanie Meadow took home medalist honors with a total of 216 (E).
The Gamecocks will now wait for the NCAA Regional pairings to be announced on April 29. Carolina will be selected to compete at one of three sites, which include Auburn, Ala., Norman, Okla., and Stanford, Calif.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS T3. Justine Dreher (5) 74-76-76=226 (+10) T8. Sarah Schmelzel (1) 76-76-76=228 (+12) T28. Suzie Lee (2) 78-76-79=233 (+17) T37. Meredith Swanson (3) 78-81-76=235 (+19) 63. Mary Fran Hillow (4) 86-83-75=244 (+28)
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