Women’s Golf: Second-to-last: a brutal truth

After a successful performance at the Papa John’s Collegiate, Miami’s women’s golf team was hoping for a repeat performance in the Chrysler Challenge. It was not to be however, as Miami finished next to last-well behind the eventual winner, the No. 28-ranked Florida State Seminoles.

The Classic, played on the Baytowne Course at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, Fla., was dominated by the Seminoles. Florida State ran away with the team title, winning by 24 shots over the second-place University of North Carolina Tar Heels, who are ranked eight spots ahead of the Seminoles at No. 20. The next closest competitor was the College of Charleston, finishing 18 shots out of second place.

The individual tournament was won by Florida State’s Caroline Westrup, who is the No. 1 player in the country. Westrup shot a two-over-par 215, scorching the course for a 68 in the final round, and putting her seven shots away from her closest competitor. The tournament was truly dominated by the Seminoles, who placed five golfers in the top 10.

The best performance for the ‘Canes came from junior Jessica Steward, shooting a final round 76 to finish with a 16-over-par 229, leaving her tied for seventh with FSU sophomore Lauren Cousart.

The performances dropped off for the ‘Canes after Steward, as no one else finished in the top 30. Senior Tiffany Prats finished 34th with a 30-over 243, senior Josie Shinn finished tied for 42nd with a 35-over 248 and sophomore Anabelle Paulino placed 47th with a 39-over 252.

Miami’s ranking is certain to fall after their performance. Currently ranked No. 71 according to Golfweek Magazine, the ‘Canes finished behind such lower-ranked teams as Ole Miss, Mississippi St., Kansas and Kentucky.

The ‘Canes only have three more tournaments before championship season begins, starting with the ACC Golf Championship with tee-off in Charlotte, North Carolina on Apr. 13.

The ‘Canes will again head North for their next tournament, participating in the UCF Challenge at the Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Mar. 5 and 6. This will potentially be the most-watched non-championship women’s golf tournament ever, as the winner of the tournament will be offered a sponsor’s exemption to the LPGA’s Sybase Classic, a tournament which falls the weekend between the NCAA’s Regionals and Finals.

“There is no better way to prepare for the NCAA Tournament than playing against the world’s best,” said UCF women’s golf coach and former LPGA pro Emilee Klein to CSTV.com. “The ladies that will be in contention for the Sybase Classic sponsor’s exemption are the same ladies that hope to win a national championship the week after.”

Matthew Bunch may be contacted at m.bunch@umiami.edu.