It was a disappointing exit for the No. 4 ranked Vanderbilt Women’s Golf Team at the SEC Championships.
The ‘Dores were the top ranked team headed into SECs, but after three rounds of worse than average scoring, they faced off against UGA in the Quarterfinals of Match Play.
The ‘Dores finished stroke play at +13 for a team total of 877, averaging 73.42 over three days. That is nearly two strokes more than their season average. The struggled, primarily, on par 3’s where they averaged 3.23 strokes per hole, playing them at a total of +14, good for 8th in par-3 scoring.
The difference in par-3 scoring between 1st and 8th was only 9 strokes. Whereas their 4th place in Par-4 scoring was 21 strokes. The Commodores played the par-4’s at +31. As a team, they made a pile of birdies, 42, only 4 off the lead. But in the par category, they ranked 8th, making 169 to the leader’s 181.
The SEC Championships are one of the only major conferences to use stroke play and match play scoring to determine their champions. The top eight teams from the stroke play competition move on to match play and are seeded based on their stroke play finish.
It is considered the most thorough way of discriminating against the best golf team, giving a large sample of stroke play and then head to head play with, evening out the field where two elite players cannot carry a team.
The Commodores lost the match 3-2. Morgan Baxendale and Abby Carlson won Vanderbilt’s two matches. Baxendale, who had struggled through stroke play (shooting 72-82-83) was down early to UGA’s Gabby Coello. She battled back from being down three holes in seven holes to being up one by her fifteenth hole. Carlson, the stalwart for this year’s squad won her match 2&1 leading 14 of the 17 holes she played.
Courtney Zeng and Louise Yu, both lost their matches by multiple holes. It was Auston Kim’s match that came down to the final hole. She never led the match, and was down ten of the 18 holes played. But through the final seven holes, the match was All Square. On the 18th hole, Kim made a 5 while her opponent made a 4, securing the individual match and the team match for the Dawgs.
Georgia went on to lose in the Semifinals to Ole Miss (the 8 seed) and South Carolina (2 seed) won the Championship.
The Commodores will take their extensive match play experience to the NCAA Regionals at the Saugahatchee Country Club in Opelika, AL, hosted by Auburn.