Feb. 8, 2014
ATHENS, Georgia - An impromptu tournament mixed with chilly weather was the perfect recipe for the Lady Vols and senior Chessey Thomas to produce collegiate championships.
The Tennessee women's golf team entered Saturday's Lady Bulldog Individual with the goal of improving before its trip to Puerto Rico. The Lady Vols excelled in their tune-up match and took home both the tournament's team and individual championships.
"Today was an interesting day," Thomas said. "I got off to a slow start but found my groove after about nine holes or so."
After a solid second round performance, Thomas captured a share of the tournament's top individual honors.
"I was excited to get my first win and really pleased for Alex Harrell as we both shared our first championship," Thomas said.
Thomas spilt the medalist honors with Alex Harrell of Auburn. The victory was particularly important to Harrell as the Auburn women's golf team had recently lost one of its coaches in a tragic car accident.
"This win meant a lot to our team after losing Danielle [Downey] last week," Harrell said. "So I wanted to win this for our team. It was a great day."
Earlier this season, Thomas was runner-up at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. She recently added some new additions to her golf bag in hopes of improving her game.
"I put a lot of new equipment in my bag over winter break so it was great to see the difference and to be out there competing to see where my game was before heading into the Puerto Rico tournament," Thomas said. "I added new irons to my bag earlier this week and it was my first event with a short putter. I have used a belly putter since May of 2012."
The victory marked the first Lady Vol championship since Erica Popson won the FSU Match-Up in February of 2013.
Thomas was not the only Lady Vol to shake off the winter frost. In fact, all six Lady Volunteers recorded the best finish of their careers en route to the Lady Bulldog Team Championship.
"We had a good day today especially the second round of 18. I am always impressed when the second 18 is a lower score and we improved 12 shots," head coach Judi Pavon said. "It was a good way to start our spring and get some kinks worked out before we head to Puerto Rico next week."
The Pietila sisters picked up valuable experience in Athens, Ga. Emmie Pietila achieved her first career top ten finish after carding a 36-hole score of 151 (+7). Meanwhile, Hannah Pietila tied for 14th place after finishing with at 155 (+11).
Mason Chen joined Pietila in 14th place as she also carded 155 (+11), Daeun Song recorded a 158 (+14) on her way to finishing tied for 23rd, and freshman Teleri Hughes had a career best finish of 41st as she carded a 166 (+22).
In a last minute decision, the Lady Bulldog Individual decided to also have "mini-team tournament" between four schools (Chattanooga, Georgia, Samford, Tennessee). The Lady Vols captured the Lady Bulldog team crown after defeating the competition by seven strokes, including Southeastern conference foe Georgia. Tennessee finished the 36-hole day with a total score of 608 (+32).
The Lady Volunteers ship off to San Juan, Puerto Rico next week to compete in the Lady Puerto Rico Classic (Feb. 16-18).
Volunteer fans can continue to keep up with the team by following @LadyVol_Golf on Twitter.
|TEAM SCORES (Final)|
|INDIVIDUAL LEADERS (Final)|
|T-1.||Chessey Thomas, Tennessee||75-72--147 (+3)|
|T-1.||Alex Harrell, Auburn||75-72--147 (+3)|
|T-3.||Rica Tse, Mississippi State||73-75--148 (+4)|
|T-3.||Daniela Lendl, Alabama||74-74--148 (+4)|
|UT SCORES (Final)|
|T-1.||Chessey Thomas||75-72--147 (+3)|
|7.||Emmie Pietila||75-76--151 (+7)|
|T-14.||Hannah Pietila||80-75--155 (+11)|
|T-14.||Mason Chen||80-75--155 (+11)|
|T-23.||Daeun Song||81-77--158 (+14)|
|T-41.||Teleri Hughes||81-85--166 (+22)|