May 21, 2010
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
WILMINGTON, N.C. - Sophomore Nathalie Mansson broke a pair of Lady Vol single-season records and freshman Erica Popson fired another solid round on Friday as the 12th-ranked Tennessee women's golf team rose to 19th on the final day of the 2010 NCAA Women's Golf Championships.
The Lady Vols carded their best round of the week, a 7-over 295, and tied with No. 11 Stanford and No. 18 TCU for 19th at 1199.
No. 8 Purdue became the firsts Big Ten squad to win the NCAA team title, snagging the crown with a 1-over 1153 total and edging Southern California by one stroke. Oklahoma State sophomore Caroline Hedwall ran away with the individual title by posting back-to-back 68s en route to a 12-under 276 score to win by four strokes.
UT rebounded from double-digit over-par rounds on Wednesday and Thursday and played even-par golf through nine holes of the final round at the Country Club of Landfall's Pete Dye Course, but collected some bogeys down the stretch.
"We had a chance to do a little bit better than we did today, but all in all we played solid golf," Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon said. "We came out more composed today - like the team we really are. In rounds two and three, the pressure and the excitement really got to us, which is unfortunate. At least today we can leave here feeling pretty decent about our round.
"We need to learn from this, and I hope the players that return will file this experience away. We're capable of playing with anybody at this tournament."
Mansson secured the UT single-season stroke average and par or better rounds records on her final hole of the National Championships. The Stockholm, Sweden, native nailed a 15-foot putt for par on the ninth green to finish the last round with a 1-under 71. It's her record-breaking 16th par or better round of 2009-10 and it dipped her stroke average to 73.059, breaking Young-A Yang's record of 73.063, set in 2000-01, by the slimmest of margins. Violeta Retamoza set the old par or better rounds mark (15) in 2004-05.
"Nathalie was determined to play better," Pavon said. "She's such a big key for us, so for her to play better was great. Young-A's been gone and on the (LPGA) Tour for several years now, so that's a big record to break. She squeaked by with two bad rounds this week, but came back today. I'm happy for her."
Mansson erased any doubts that she would replicate her previous two rounds, a second-round 80 and a round-three 77, by starting off her day with a birdie on No. 10 and coming through the turn at 2-under. She suffered a bogey on No. 5, but regrouped to cap her season with four straight pars.
"It was like night and day, for my putting from yesterday to today," Mansson said. "Also, I believed more in what I did today. It's really cool to break those records, but I'm pretty disappointed about this week. I know both the team and I expected to play better. I will just keep working hard and come back better next year."
Mansson finished the tournament with a 72-hole score of 301 (+17) to tie for 67th.
Despite her record-breaking last day, Mansson was not the star of the competition for the Lady Vols. That honor belonged to Popson for the third straight tournament.
Making her NCAA Championships debut, the Davenport, Fla., native fired a score of 72-73-72-73=290 (+2) to tie for 18th. Friday capped a spectacular postseason stretch for Popson, as she recorded a 73 or below for the 10th straight round. She averaged a superb 71.10 over her last three tournaments, taking SEC Runner-up honors and tying for fourth at the NCAA East Regional in addition to her great NCAA performance.
"I'm a little disappointed that I didn't play better today," Popson said. "I put myself in a position to play well; I just didn't capitalize. Overall, I had a good tournament. My goal was to get in the top-10 heading into today. I didn't get that, but I stayed in and I fought. I'm disappointed right now, but I will be happy about it, eventually."
Senior Diana Cantú wrapped up her Lady Vol career by posting a 3-over 75. She finished the tournament with a 76-75-78-75=304 (+16) total and a tied for 86th placement. She finishes her Orange and White career with the seventh-lowest career stroke average (76.16) and having played in the second-most rounds ever (130). She participated in three NCAA Championships and earned All-SEC and All-Region honors as a senior.
Like all of the Lady Vols, the Monterrey, Mexico, native was hoping for a better performance this week, but she is satisfied with her Big Orange career.
"I wish I would've ended playing better," Cantú said. "I feel like I played better than what I shot. I had a very good senior year. I will miss Tennessee a lot. It's an honor to be a part of this team."
Monberg followed her third-round 73 with a 76 on Friday, including a birdie on the ultra-difficult 16th hole. The Juelsminde, Denmark, native finished her NCAA Championships debut with a 76-81-73-76=306 (+18) final score and a tied for 99th finish.
Spurlock totaled 84-79-78-82=323 (+35) and finished 123rd in her second NCAA Championships, improving by 13 strokes from her 2009 debut.
|LADY VOL SCORES|
|t18.||Erica Popson||72-73-72-73=290 (+2)|
|t67.||Nathalie Mansson||73-80-77-71=301 (+13)|
|t86.||Diana Cantú||76-75-78-75=304 (+16)|
|t99.||Sara Monberg||76-81-73-76=306 (+18)|
|123.||Lauren Spurlock||84-79-78-82=323 (+35)|