NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Par or better performances from three Lady Vols led the No. 14-ranked Tennessee golf team to a 2-under 286 final round score and a 19th-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Golf Championships on Friday.
The team’s fourth round total ties the best mark of the season previously scored in the first round of the Cougar Classic this fall. The Lady Vols tallied a 300-307-307-286=1200 to move three slots up the leader board on the Championships’ final day.
“They know they were better than they have been playing it was great to have a good round to end the season,” head coach Judi Pavon said. “They had pride in themselves and played the kind of golf they are capable of playing.”
Sophomore Chessey Thomas played a clean round Friday, carding her round of 70 at the par-72 Vanderbilt Legends Club Course without recording a bogey. The Spokane, Wash., native made par on her first seven holes before birdieing holes 17 and 18. Making the turn at two under, Thomas finished out the round by shooting par on every hole of her second nine and was Tennessee’s top finisher at the national championship with a 76-78-74-70=298 (+10) mark and a share of 45th place.
Freshman AJ Newell posted the low round of her collegiate career with a 70 in round four. The Tampa, Fla., product got off to a rough start, finding herself two over par through three holes, but righted the ship, using four birdies to come in two under par. She put together a four-day total of 307 – good for a share of 93rd place.
Junior Erica Popson added an even par round of 72 to the Tennessee effort Friday, making it a dozen rounds of par or better for her this season. A native of Davenport, Fla., Popson tied for 63rd at the tournament with a 77-76-76-72=301 total.
The trio was joined in the lineup at the Orange and White’s fourth consecutive NCAA Championships by senior Nathalie Mansson and junior Sara Monberg who each shot 2-over 74s in the tournament’s final round.
Mansson, the only Lady Vol to play in the NCAA Championships in each of her four years, took 70th with a four-day total of 74-76-78-74=302 (+14) in her last tournament at UT. She concludes her Lady Vol career as the program’s leader in career rounds of par or better with 39 and is third in program history with 16 top-10 finishes in her time at Tennessee.
Monberg finished the NCAA Championships tied for 93rd with a 75-77-81-74=307 (+19) total. She rebounded from four bogeys in the first six holes on Friday to play even-par golf the second nine.
No. 2 Alabama won the national championship with a 19-over 1,171 total, edging No. 3 Southern California by one stroke.
Oklahoma’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil fired three rounds under par en route to medalist honors (6-under 282).
Tennessee concludes the 2011-12 campaign with two tournament team titles, five top-five finishes and one medalist winner. Four of five NCAA Championships participants are set to return to Rocky Top in the fall.