Gamecocks Advance to NCAA Championship; Finish Sixth at Regional
May 7, 2011
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
(UPDATED 9:15 p.m. PDT/12:15 a.m. EDT)
AUBURN, Wash. - South Carolina's women's golf team will compete in the NCAA Championship for the second straight year after finishing in sixth place at the NCAA West Regional, which wrapped up Saturday at Washington National Golf Club.
The Gamecocks shot 303-299-300=902 (+38) for the week and saw all five players contribute to the effort that will send them to College Station, Texas, in two weeks for their third NCAA Championship appearance in four years. South Carolina will join Southern California, Tennessee, Virginia, UC Davis, Arizona, Washington and Texas A&M as the teams advancing from the West Regional. In addition, Marta Silva Zamora of Georgia and Amy Anderson of North Dakota State advanced as individuals.
Of remarkable note is that all three freshmen in the lineup saw their score count all three days. And it was a freshman that led the way for Carolina on Saturday as Suzie Lee shot a 1-over-par 73 in less-than-ideal conditions to pace the Gamecock effort. Lee made the turn at 1-over-par after carding just one bogey at No. 4, then dropped to 3-over after a rough start to the back nine. But she came up with two of the biggest birdies of her young career at the par-3 16th and the tricky par-5 17th to move back to 1-over, then finished with a par to wrap up a strong day and a strong week.
For the week, Lee shot 77-72-73=222 (+6) and tied for 15th place, her third top-20 showing of the season and second in a row.
Junior Katie Burnett improved by six shots over her second-round effort as she carded a 3-over-par 75 that rated as the second-best Gamecock round of the day. After making birdie at the first hole and bogey at No. 3, she rolled off four straight pars before sinking a lengthy putt for birdie at No. 8 to make the turn at 1-under. Despite a bogey at No. 10, she carded back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 to move to 2-under with five to play. However, a double-bogey at the 15th and a tough triple-bogey at the closing hole kept her from an even-par round. Nevertheless, a great recovery for Burnett after a rough second round as she finished in a tie for 52nd place.
The team's two other freshmen also came up big on Saturday. Samantha Swinehart and Katie Rose Higgins both posted rounds of 76 (+4) to conclude a solid NCAA postseason debut for the Gamecock rookie class. Swinehart made a pair of early bogeys but fought back to 1-over with a birdie at No. 7. However, she would drop to 4-over as she made three straight bogeys on 9, 10 and 11. From that point on, though, she recorded eight straight pars to conclude a solid week at 75-71-76=222 (+6), tied with Lee for a 15th-place finish; she leads the squad with four top-20 placements this season.
Higgins, meanwhile, equaled her best round of the week. She made the turn at 3-over after bogeys at the first, fifth and ninth holes, but then ran off a stretch of four straight pars before her first birdie of the day at the tricky par-5 14th. However, she would bogey holes 16 and 17 to finish off a 4-over day and a week of 76-78-76=230 (+14). Sophomore Amanda Strang fought hard on the final day and made two birdies, but finished with an 81 (+9).
Top-ranked Southern Cal took the team title at 866 (+2) after a 6-over-par round Saturday; Tennessee was the runner up at 876 (+12). Virginia and UC Davis tied for third place at 887 (+23). Tennessee's Erica Popson, the 2011 SEC Champion, ran away with medalist honors at 208 (-8), five shots clear of Southern Cal's Lizette Salas.
South Carolina will be one of seven Southeastern Conference teams competing in two weeks at the NCAA Championship. In addition to the Gamecocks and Tennessee from the West Region, Arkansas and LSU finished in the top eight and the Central Region. Alabama and Florida also earned spots from the East Region, along with Vanderbilt after the Commodores won a playoff over Florida State for the eighth and final spot.
The NCAA Championship runs May 18-21 at the Texas A&M Traditions Course. Stay with GamecocksOnline.com for complete coverage of South Carolina golf.
NCAA WEST REGIONAL - FINAL RESULTS
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS