|Hatters Face Uphill Climb to Fourth Title|
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Two years ago, the Stetson women’s golf team went into the final day of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in fifth place, 12 shots off the lead, and came back to earn a second consecutive A-Sun title.
If the Hatters are going to earn a fourth straight crown, they’ll have to pull off a similar miracle finish on Wednesday at Venetian Bay Golf Club.
Stetson goes into the final round in fourth place, 11 shots behind Kennesaw State. The Owls took command of the team leaderboard on Tuesday with a score of 284 (-4), which set A-Sun records for lowest-ever team total and lowest second-round total. The Owls own a two-day team total of 576 – six strokes ahead of second place.
“Kennesaw State played a great round today,” Stetson coach Floyd Kerr said. “We didn’t play bad, but we didn’t play great. We had some opportunities that we didn’t cash in and there were two holes where we really had trouble. On the ninth hole we had two double bogeys and on 13 we had a double and a triple, so we lost a lot of shots right there.”
ETSU’s Gabriella Wahl remained out-front as the individual leader with a one-over-par 73, holding a one-shot lead going into the final round. Close behind the Buccaneer freshman are Mercer’s Lacey Fears (141, -3) who fired a 70 on day two and Wahl’s teammate Sian Evans, who also recorded a second-round 70.
Stetson’s Alexandria Buelow and Kennesaw State’s Ket Preamchuen are tied in fourth place (142, -2) following identical even par scores on Tuesday.
Kennesaw State’s Ines Lescudier carded the low round in day two with a blistering 68, which included six birdies – four of which came on the opening nine holes. The four-under-par round moved the freshman from a tie for 25th to start the day into 10th place entering Wednesday’s final round.
The Owls own four of the top-10 spots on the individual leaderboard going into the final round with Lea Charpier (+1; T6th) and Kaew Preamchuen (+1; T6th) joining Ket and Lescudier at the top of the standings.
The Bucs follow Kennesaw State in the chase for the team title with a combined 582 (+6) after shooting 292 on day two, while Mercer owns third place (587; +11) after the Bears set the program’s 18-hole record for the second-straight day with a 289. The Bears’ Sarah Louie Brown joined Fears with a second-round, 70, which tied the lowest 18-hole round by a Mercer student-athlete in A-Sun history.
Stetson, the three-time defending champions, dropped one spot to fourth place (588; +12) following a 295 in round two.
Jacksonville and FGCU are knotted up in fifth place (620, +44) after the Dolphins fired a 303 on day two, while the Eagles netted a 308. Lipscomb set the program record for lowest team single-day total with 308 to move into a tie with Belmont for seventh place (629, +53), while USC Upstate shot a 316 for the second-straight day to trail the Nashville programs.
Individually for the Hatters, Buelow is still in contention for her third consecutive individual title, but all five members of the squad will enter the final day with a chance at top 10 finishes. Senior Lauren Cate is tied for eighth after her second round score of 75 puts her at two-over par 146 for the tournament.
Sophomores Sammi Smith (75-74-149), Ryan Ashburn (77-74-151) and Mallory Viera (79-75-154) are all within striking distance, and will all need to make a major move on Wednesday if the Hatters are to have a chance at the title.
“The question is, is it doable? We’ll certainly play,” Kerr said.
“If we get hot early and make some birdies tomorrow, who knows. There will be three teams playing together tomorrow – Mercer, East Tennessee and Kennesaw State – who may start going head-to-head and forget that we are out there somewhere. If we can get on a run early we can get into it. I wouldn’t say that our chances are legit, but we’re going to show up and we are going to play.”
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