Greensboro, NC – The Stetson University women’s golf team turned in a consistent performance through 54 holes at the UNCG/Starmount Fall Classic to finish eighth in the 15-team field.
The Hatters posted scores of 305 and 300 in the first two rounds on Monday and then closed with a 301 today to finish one shot behind fellow Atlantic Sun Conference member Jacksonville. The Hatters made up six shots on the Dolphins in the final round.
“JU played really well in the second round yesterday,” Stetson coach Floyd Kerr said. “They have a couple of new players on their team. That is just another team in our league that is going to be competitive.”
The Hatters finished 30 shots behind tournament champion Chattanooga. The Moccasins (876) broke 300 in all three rounds, including back-to-back 289s on Monday, and then held off Campbell (878) for a two-shot victory over the Camels. Maryland (884) finished third followed by Western Carolina (898) and High Point (900) in the top five.
Chattanooga was led by tournament medalist Agathe Sauzon, who closed with a two-under par 69 on Tuesday to finish the tournament at three-under par 210. Kaylin Yost of Campbell finished second, three shots back at even par 213.
Stetson was led by freshmen Giulia Vandenberg and Alessandra Kutz. Vandenberg opened the tournament with rounds of 73 and 74 on Monday before closing with a five over par 76 on Tuesday. Her 10-over par score of 223 was good for 20th place overall.
“Giulia played solid golf with three good rounds,” Kerr said. “She had trouble on the back today, making double on both of the par threes. She birdied both of those holes in the second round, so that is a six shot swing for her right there.”
Kutz had to overcome an illness on the first day of play, but battled back to tie for 21st in the tournament. She opened with a score of 80 on Monday, but bounced back with a one-under par 70 in the second round. She finished with a 74 on Tuesday.
“She had some kind of issue with something she ate on Monday and I had my doubts as to whether she would even be able to finish that first round,” Kerr said. “She battled through the first six holes and was five over par. She started to feel a little better after that.”
Kutz struggled in all three rounds with the par 4 13th hole, which just happened to have been her starting hole for the first two rounds. She opened with a triple bogey in the first round, had a double in the second round and then a bogey in Tuesday’s final round. She played the rest of the course in five-over par over three rounds.
“The course was in really good shape, but we struggled on the greens both days,” Kerr said.
The biggest problem for the Hatters in the tournament was that the three seniors did not play as well as the two freshmen.
“You can’t be competitive in a tournament like this when you have to count a bunch of 78s and 79s,” Kerr said. “You need to have a couple of players shoot low scores and then have two more shoot in the 75-76 range. Those 78s and 79s cost you a lot of shots.”
Mallory Viera, who has been the teams’ most consistent performer, struggled on Monday, posting a pair of 79s. She came back in the final round with an even par 71 to finish 36th overall. Ryan Ashburn (78-78-80=236) and Jenna Hoecker (75-78-86=239) finished the tournament tied for 53rd and tied for 63rd respectively.
The Hatters will not have long to reflect on this event because they will jump right back into tournament play this weekend at the LPGA Xavier Invitational. The 18-team tournament will have a practice round on Friday before single, 18-hole, rounds of competition on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
“We’ll probably play a couple of different people this weekend,” Kerr said. “We want to give a lot of people a chance to play this fall in order to get an idea as to what our best mix will be in the spring.”
Kerr said he expects the tournament to be competitive. The field will include fellow A-Sun members Mercer, Northern Kentucky, Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida as well as Florida teams from Bethune-Cookman, Daytona State and Florida Atlantic. Other teams in the tournament will include Creighton, Illinois State, McNeese State, Morehead State, North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Samford and host Xavier.
“It should be a very competitive tournament,” Kerr said. “Daytona State is always good and Xavier usually plays well in this event. I expect McNeese State will also be good. If we play well, we will have a shot to have a good finish.”