Georgia Runs Away With the NCAA Women's Golf Fall

Sept. 24, 2006


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In what was arguably one of the toughest fields out of all collegiate tournaments that will take place this season, Georgia was unstoppable all weekend long as it claimed the 2006 Golf Daytona Beach NCAA Fall Preview Sunday. The Bulldogs shot a three-under 285 and won the event by nine strokes over Duke with an overall total of 869. Tennessee's Nicole Smith stayed atop the individual leaderboard to earn medalist honors, shooting a three-round score of 211 (five-under).

UCF finished in 18th place (964, +100) after posting its best team round with a 307 Sunday. The Golden Knights recorded a 331 on day one and a 326 on the second day.

"I knew this was going to be a shock to our system," said UCF head coach Emilee Klein. "It's a really tough start, our first tournament of the year. So we kind of threw ourselves into the shark pit. But overall I'm really proud of them. We started off a little shaky and not what we expected. But we came back and proved that we can play this game and we are a good team. Now we just have to move forward and work on what our weaknesses are."

All three rounds were held at the par-72 LPGA International's Legends Course in Daytona Beach, Fla., with Sunday's round being a shotgun start. UCF and the Central Florida Sports Commission co-hosted the event at the same course that will hold the 2007 NCAA Championships May 22-25, 2007.

Georgia's steady play all day long proved to be the determining factor in winning the title. They did feel some pressure along the way. Auburn, which was second after both the first and second rounds, got a birdie right out of the gate from Nicole Hage, but she doubled her second hole (hole No. 3).

For Duke, it stood in 11th after day one, made a huge jump to third Saturday and looked like it would threaten the Bulldogs Sunday. Anna Grzbien bogeyed No. 1 and ultimately finished the front nine with five birdies for a four-under 32. She completed the round carding a one-under 71. Fellow Blue Devil Jennifer Pandolfi fired five-straight birdies from No. 7 to No. 11 en route to a four-under 68.

Even with some impressive performances, Duke was still unable to overcome Georgia. The Bulldogs had two of their players land in the top 10, including Mallory Hetzel tying for second at one-under par (215). She posted her post round of the weekend Sunday with a two-under 70. Taylor Leon followed closely at even-par for the tournament.

"I think this is the best team that I have had since I've been at Georgia," said Bulldog head coach Todd McCorkle. "We've really stepped up our work ethic this year and it's great to see a lot of good results. This was an incredible field with 14 out of the top 15 teams in the country. To come out on top should give us a ton of confidence. The one thing we preach is to hit one shot at a time, but it was such a difficult golf course that a lot of demons can creep into your head. I'm very proud that they all stayed focused out there."

Smith won the individual crown in wire-to-wire fashion. After an opening round five-under 67, her lead was cut from five to two after a three-over 75. On Sunday, Hetzel came close to tying Smith as midway through the final round, the lead was just one with help from an opening-hole bogey from Smith (on hole No. 7). It was birdies on Nos. 9, 12, 14, 16 from Smith, however, that helped bring the lead back up to three. Another birdie at No. 2 sealed the top spot for the Lady Vol.

"I really wanted to come back out and do the opposite of what I did yesterday," Smith commented before receiving her first-place trophy. My goal was to come out and shoot low, hit the fairways and greens and just take the birdies when they come. I came out and I knew I was in the lead so I set my goals high. I kind of had a surreal calmness this morning, it was just like, I'm going to do this. And I did it."

Following Smith, just two other players were under par. Hetzel and Virginia's Leah Wigger shot a one-under 215 to tie for runner-up honors. UCLA's Tiffany Joh shot the day's low round, a five-under 67, which tied Smith for the low round of the tournament.

The Golden Knights' best round included its four players who scored shoot in the 70s. They were led by two freshmen. Leigh Crosby (Athens, Ga./Oconee) fired a one-over 73 Sunday to tie for 71st overall. Meanwhile, Sara Hurwitch (Potomac Falls, Va./Dominion) tied for 79th with a final-round score of 79.

"I think overall it was a good week to learn," said Klein. "My girls all played very solid today and I'm proud of them that they hung in there. They know how tough it is. They were there on the first day on the first tee saying `do you see who's over there?' One day they will be saying that about us."

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Final Round at the 2006 Golf Daytona Beach NCAA Fall Preview (Par: 72)Leaderboard R1 R2 R3 Total To Par1. Georgia 289 295 285 869 +52. Duke 306 288 284 878 +143. UCLA 304 298 283 885 +214. Auburn 298 290 300 888 +245. Vanderbilt 302 297 291 890 +266. Arizona State 300 298 293 891 +277. Wake Forest 307 291 295 893 +29T8. Florida 305 300 290 895 +31T8. Tennessee 299 302 294 895 +3110. Virginia 303 295 298 896 +32T11. Southern Cal 304 301 297 902 +38T11. Oklahoma St. 305 303 294 902 +3813. Arkansas 307 297 301 905 +4114. Purdue 311 304 293 908 +4415. Texas A&M 314 298 309 921 +5716. UNLV 315 304 304 923 +5917. California 320 302 307 929 +6518. UCF 331 326 307 964 +100

Top IndividualScores Team R1 R2 R3 Total To Par1. Nicole Smith Tennessee 67 75 69 211 -52. Mallory Hetzel Georgia 73 72 70 215 -13. Leah Wigger Virginia 71 73 71 215 -1T4. Jacqui Concolino Vanderbilt 70 75 71 216 ET4. Taylor Leon Georgia 72 73 71 216 ET4. Anna Nordqvist Arizona State 73 74 69 216 ET7. Sandra Gal Florida 73 74 70 217 +1T7. Anna Grzbien Duke 77 69 71 217 +1T7. Paola Moreno Southern Cal 73 74 70 217 +1
UCF ScoresT71. Leigh Crosby UCF 85 78 73 236 +20T79. Sara Hurwitch UCF 75 84 79 238 +22T86. Holly Boot UCF 84 87 77 248 +32T86. Victoria Tomko UCF 87 83 78 248 +32T89. Mayule Tomimbang UCF 87 81 84 252 +36