Jessica Shepley had the best NCAA Tournament total in school history.
May 21, 2004
Head Coach Judi Pavon's golf squad wound up Tennessee's first NCAA Championship since 2000 by placing 11th with a school-record 1193 (303-297-301-292) at the 2004 NCAA Championships at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Ala. The team total set a program four-day standard by breaking the previous record set by the 1997 edition that totaled 1197 (309-301-295-292). Additionally, junior Teesha Ash (Chattanooga, Tenn.) provided some excitement as she stirred up a buzz throughout the course with a hole-in-one on the 145-yard No. 17 hole.
"We kept getting lucky this whole tournament to be in a position to make a move," Pavon said. "We finally got the round we were looking for and it came at a good time. I am just proud of how we played today."
In the national-title race, UCLA overcame continual lightning delays that pushed the finish of the event until a fifth day by posting a four-under 1148 (289-283-286-290) to hold off a late charge by Oklahoma State (288-293-282-288=1151) to claim the 2004 team championship. Heavily-favored Duke finished in third with a seven-over 1159 (289-284-292-294) to round out the top three.
As for the individual championship fray, California's Sarah Huarte out-dueled Oklahoma State's Karin Sjodin by recording a 10-under 278 (73-69-67-69) to claim the title, while the Cowgirl took runner-up status with a nine-under 279 (71-69-68-71).
As for the Big Orange, junior Jessica Shepley (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) put
together Tennessee's best NCAA Championship tournament in program history with
a fifth-place 286 (73-72-71-70) to best former Lady Vol standout Young-A
Yang's previous standard set in 2001 with a fifth-place 288 (75-73-71-69).
The fifth-place effort also tied Yang's NCAA Championship program standard set
that same year.
"I've had a rough season so far," Shepley said. "It is extremely exciting to have a tournament like this after such a long year. It was the perfect way to end the season."
Shepley shot an amazingly solid round on her final day as she nearly made par-or-under the entire day. Additionally, the two-under 70 is the third-best final round at an NCAA Championship in UT history.
"I am proud of Jessica," Pavon said. "She was passed over for All-America recognition last year and we knew coming in that a top-10 finish here would give her a good shot to get it this year. She had her best tournament, by far, at the best time she could have done it. To see her do that after struggling this year is phenomenal."
The team captain opened up the day with eight holes at par-or-under with birdies on No. 12 and No. 16 before breaking her streak with a bogey on No. 9. She ignored the one-over hole and continued with an incredible performance in which she notched seven straight pars, a birdie and a par on her back nine. "I had a consistent round today," Shepley said. "I only had one bogey. I kept the ball in play and gave myself some putts. I picked the right shots today and two-putted my way through the day."
Ash's ace helped the East Tennessee product to a solid round. After opening up with a double on her second hole, she made a trio of pars before notching a bogey on No. 15. The incredible hole-in-one on No. 17 brought her back to one-over to secure a good front nine. Ash then pocketed six pars along with two bogeys and a double over her last nine holes to finish with a five-over 77 to tally a 69th-place-tying 303 (79-73-74-77).
"Teesha had a solid tournament," Pavon said. "She is a great player and is fun to be around. Her hole-in-one was exciting because we don't have a lot of luck on the course, so that was great for us."
The tale of the tape for Tennessee's third ace in program history reads like a fated tale of déjà vu as great things seem to happen for the Tennessee Lady Vols on No. 17 at the Grand National Lake Course in Opelika, Ala. Today was no different as Ash carded an ace with a hole-in-one on the same hole former Lady Vol Skyli Yamada scored the first Big Orange ace on May 11, 1996. Yamada notched her third-career hole-in-one on the final round of the NCAA East Regional on the 143-yard hole with a six iron. Ash's version of the incredible shot came on a 145-yard setup with a seven iron. Tina Schneeberger scored the only other ace for Tennessee in the 2000 Mercedes-Benz on the 174-yard No. 13 at the Gettysvue Polo, Golf and Country Club.
Overall, there have been only 41 aces, including Ash's hole-in-one, this season in women's collegiate golf. Earlier this season, Wake Forest's Christine Hallstrom posted a hole-in-one on the same hole as well during the final round of the NCAA Fall Preview. The ace is also the third witnessed at the Grand National this year as Pepperdine's Carolina Llano knocked in an ace on No. 15 during the third round of the Preview.
"I didn't get to see it go in," Ash said. "It was my second one and I didn't get to see either of them because I am so short (5'3"). All I saw today was the guy on the green put his hands up like it was a field-goal in football. I used a seven iron and it drew a bit, landed 12 feet from the hole and rolled back in, at least that is what the guy on the green said."
Ash went on to explain her reaction to her second hole-in-one (first occurred during practice while a freshman at Mississippi).
"I teared up a little bit," Ash said. "I was a bit frustrated with my day up until then, but that got me back on track."
Sophomore Golda Johansson (Lund, Sweden) came back with a vengeance after struggling throughout the tournament by posting a career-best-tying two-under 70 for a final tally of 307 (79-77-81-70) to tie for 88th place.
"Golda put a lot of pressure on herself coming into this tournament," Pavon said. "I told her to just play for herself today. I am really happy for her. She made a ton of birdies at a good time for the team."
Overall, Johansson nailed seven birdies over the day. She started her round with a string of five holes at par-or-under including back-to-back birdies on No. 11 and No. 12, before taking a double on No. 15. She then picked up a bogey on No. 17 after a par on No. 16 before posting another pair of back-to-back birdies on No. 18 and No. 1. After putting down another birdie on No. 4 and suffering a double on No. 6, the sophomore rang up her third set of back-to-back birdies to end the day on No. 8 and No. 9.
Johansson's classmate Violeta Retamoza (Aguascalientes, Mexico) provided a solid third score with her third-straight three-over 75 to collect a 298 (73-75-75-75) to tie for 49th place. While the all-SEC first-team selection got off to a rough with two bogeys and back-to-back doubles on No. 15 and No. 16, she came through in the clutch with a two-under back nine with three birdies and a bogey.
"Violeta is not pleased with how her tournament turned out," Pavon said. "However, she hung in for the team today. She came in two-under after going out five-over because she knew we needed her. She is a great player and will be great for us next year."
Freshman Holly Cantwell (Morristown, Tenn.) rounded out the UT effort with a 10-over 82 to record a 318 (78-77-81-82) for the tournament and finish in a 118th-place tie.. On the day, the rookie notched one birdie, 10 pars, five bogeys, a double and a quadruple bogey.
"Holly gained some valuable experience this week," Pavon said. "She was able to play a lot of golf this year and it is something to be proud of to be a freshman playing at the NCAA Championships. She is going to be able to learn from her experience and now knows what to improve on over the summer. She has helped up out a lot this year with rounds when we needed them." Tennessee's season is now complete.
At Grand National Lake Course (Opelika, Ala.)
|Top Scorer (field=125):|
|1.||Sarah Huarte, California||73-69-67-69=278|