April 19, 2009
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. - Led by junior Ginny Brown's top-10 finish, the Tennessee women's golf team placed fourth at the 2009 SEC Women's Golf Championship on Sunday at the Cobblestone Park Golf Club.
The Lady Vols finished with a 54-hole total of 295-293-293=881 (+29) at the par-71 6,156-yard course en route to defeating four teams ranked ahead of them (No. 8 LSU, No. 14 Georgia, No. 18 Vanderbilt and No. 29 Florida).
For UT, it was its second-best finish at a tournament and second-best three-round total of the season. Tennessee was runner-up at the Puerto Rico Classic in February and recorded an 880 at the UCF Challenge in March.
This is the 14th top-five finish at the SEC tournament in Lady Vol history and UT head coach Judi Pavon's seventh top-four conference placement in nine seasons at the helm of the Big Orange.
"I'm really proud of this group of girls," Pavon said. "We put ourselves in a position to win today and that is something we hadn't done all season. We played the back nine real well and showed a lot of toughness today. Everybody did some great things for us this week. This group has worked hard all season and it's nice to see it pay off."
Brown was spectacular in her second SEC Championship, tying for sixth, and leading the Lady Vols at a tournament for the first time in her career while firing a career-best 74-72-71=217 (+4). Her previous best total was a 220 at the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Championships. Brown also had her previous best finish at this fall's Mercedes-Benz where she tied for 19th.
"Ginny Brown was just amazing for us," Pavon said. "I'm so proud of her. She played the best golf of her career at the biggest tournament of the season so far."
It was quite a tournament for Brown, who tied for 46th at the 2008 SEC Championship and didn't compete in the conference tournament in 2007. The Austin, Texas, native had four birdies on Sunday and the shot of the tournament on Saturday -- a hole-in-one on the 140-yard, par-3 11th hole.
"My goal was to finish top-10, so I'm really excited," Brown said. "This was my best finish ever, but I feel like I should be playing this well every time out. One thing I've really improved from last year is my putting. I switched my putting style which has made a big difference. The coaches have also taught me a lot and helped my short game."
Smith, UT's lone senior fired a 75 on Sunday and capped her final SEC Championship with a 76-69-75=220 (+7) total to place t13th. It was the Riverside, Calif., native's third top-15 finish at SECs as she tied for seventh in 2006 and placed t14th in 2007.
Mansson continued her impressive freshman campaign, tying for 13th with a total score of 71-76-73=220 (+7). The Stockholm, Sweden, native was four-over after seven holes on Sunday, but bounced back and shot 1-under on the back to finish 2-over on the day.
Junior Diana Cantú tied for 26th at her third SEC Championship, finishing with a total score of 74-76-74=224 (+11). It was the best conference finish of her career.
Sophomore Lauren Spurlock tied for 45th at her first SEC tournament, finishing with a total score of 77-76-81=234 (+21).
Georgia freshman Marta Silva won the individual title by carding a 54-hole total of 72-67-71=210 (-3), while Auburn won the team title by firing a 1-under 285 on Sunday to finish with an 870 (+18) total. Arkansas and Alabama tied for second with 878 (+26) total.
Next up for the Lady Vols is the NCAA Regional Championships from May 7-9. UT will find out on April 27 what site they will compete at for a spot at the 2009 NCAA Championships - either in Tempe, Ariz., Gainesville, Fla., or Columbus, Ohio.
With a top-eight finish in the region, the Lady Vols will qualify for the NCAA Championships from May 19-22 in Owings Mills, Maryland.
"I'm really proud of how this team has competed all season," Pavon said. "We are going to practice hard over the next couple weeks to prepare for regionals and I'm really confident that we will be able to play on at the NCAA Championships."
|Lady Vol Placements|
|T6.||Ginny Brown||74-72-71=217 (+4)|
|T13.||Nicole Smith||76-69-75=220 (+7)|
|T13.||Nathalie Mansson||71-76-73=220 (+7)|
|T26.||Diana Cantú||74-76-74=224 (+11)|
|T45.||Lauren Spurlock||77-76-81=234 (+21)|
|9.||South Carolina||299-300-298=897 (+45)|
|12.||Mississippi State||318-307-305=930 (+78)|