May 10, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- South Carolina women's golf rallied from eight shots back and captured its third-straight NCAA Regional Title Wednesday at OSU Golf Club. The No. 12 Gamecocks paced the field for the second-straight day, carding a final-round 288 (E) to finish tied with Florida atop the leaderboard at the Columbus Regional.
Carolina freshman Ana Pelaez's impressive NCAA postseason debut resulted in medalist honors, as the Gamecock newcomer posted a final-round 70 (-2) en route to first-place honors. The Malaga, Spain, native totaled a three-round mark of 216 (E) to share the individual title with Florida's Kelly Grassel, while Gamecock senior Katelyn Dambaugh and junior Ainhoa Olarra also grabbed top-five finishes at the 54-hole event at the Scarlet Course.
Wednesday's victory marked the fifth regional title in eight years for the Gamecocks, who earned their eighth-straight trip to the NCAA Championship by virtue of their top-six finish. All five wins have come under coach Kalen Anderson.
No. 5 Florida State (891, +27) Ohio State (893, +29) and Purdue (904, +40) rounded out the top five spots, while Michigan (908, +44) marked the final school to advance to the NCAA Championship from the Columbus Regional.
The 2017 NCAA Championship will feature a 24-team field and take place May 19-24 at Rich Harvest Farm in Sugar Grove, Ill. This season will mark Carolina's 17th appearance at the NCAA Championship and the ninth time it has reached the event under Anderson. The Gamecocks reached the match-play portion of the tournament for the first time in school history last year.
Pelaez was brilliant down the stretch Wednesday, tallying four of her five birdies after the turn. Birdies on Nos. 10 and 12 moved the freshman into a tie for first, and she grabbed the solo lead with another birdie on the par-5 14th. Pelaez stuck her tee shot on the difficult par-3 17th to within two feet before converting her final birdie of the day, and she finished her week at even after a bogey on No 18.
Dambaugh, the medalist at the 2016 NCAA Baton Regional, tied for third this week with a three-round mark of 217 (+1). She totaled five birdies on her round, including one on her final hole, the par-4 18th. Dambaugh's 13 birdies for the tournament led the 96-player field.
Olarra, who placed in a tie for fifth, turned in her best performance of the tournament Wednesday, firing a 2-under 70 in the final round. She posted a back-nine 33 (-3) in a stretch that was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 14th. The junior added a birdie on No. 16, and amassed 11 pars for her round.
Carolina sophomore Marion Veysseyre finished tied for 61st with a 54-hole total of 236 (+20), and senior Jia Xin Yang tied for 82nd (244, +28). Yang notched two birdies over her final nine holes, while Veysseyre sunk a 20-foot putt on the par-5 14th to register an eagle.
Quoting Coach Kalen Anderson
"It's pretty amazing, and I'm a little speechless. I told them it was a marathon this week, and they did that. We hung in there the first day, and got some warmer weather the rest of the way. They played so great -- Kate, Ainhoa and Ana were so steady for us. We built momentum after momentum and finished with some birdies. I'm very proud of this group -- they are very resilient."
Ana Pelaez turned it on after the turn and carded four birdies over her final nine holes. Her final birdie of the afternoon came after a great tee shot on the par-3 17th when the freshman stuck it to two feet from the hole.
The Gamecocks open play at the 2017 NCAA Championship Fri., May 19, at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The six-day event includes two cuts during stroke play before the eight-team match-play bracket is determined.
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