Marina Alex crowned SEC Champion
April 18, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Marina Alex captured the SEC individual championship and her first individual title as a collegian on the second playoff hole over Tennessee's Erica Popson on Sunday at the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The sophomore from Wayne, N.J., finished the tournament at five-under par, 208 (71-65-72), which paced the Commodore team, who placed four strokes behind champion Alabama with an 852 (284-281-287) for the event. The second-place finish was the Commodores' best since winning the championship in 2004.
Alex fired a one-over par, 72, on Sunday, and held off Tennessee's Popson, who shot a 68 on Sunday. Alex finished her round, and had to wait for Popson to finish her final hole before she headed out for the playoff. On the first hole, Alex made a birdie on the par five first, but Popson responded with a birdie of her own to send it to another playoff hole. On the second hole, both players found themselves in the middle of the fairway, but Popson hit her second shot in the bunker behind the green, while Alex found the middle of the green with her second shot. Popson flew her third shot over the green, while Alex lagged her birdie putt to within two feet. Popson missed her par chip, and Alex knocked in her putt to win the championship.
Alex's win was her first as a collegian, and it was the Commodores' first individual championship since 2004, when May Wood captured medalist honors. Alex also set a new single-round SEC Championship record Saturday with a six-under par, 65.
Alex and her Commodore teammates were in contention for the team title, and actually held the lead through 15 holes. However, the final three holes caused some problems for the Commodores, as the team played 16 through 18 at eight-over par. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide played the final three holes at one-under par.
Vanderbilt counted a one-under par, 70, from junior Megan Grehan, a one-over par, 72, from senior Brooke Goodwin, and a two-over par, 73, from freshman Anna Leigh Keith to go along with Alex's one-over 72. Freshman Lauren Stratton finished the day with a three-over par, 74.
Goodwin tied for 10th for the tournament, with a 213 (69-72-72), Stratton finished in a tie for 24th (76-69-74=219), Keith ended the tournament in a tie for 28th (72-75-73=220), and Grehan finished in a tie for 31st (72-70-70=222).
"If you would have told me if we would have had a chance to win with three holes left, I would have taken it," said Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen. I'm really excited for Marina, and for her to come through in the biggest tournament of the season.
"As for the team, we had never been in this situation, so hopefully we can learn from it, and take this experience to NCAA Regionals," continued Allen. "It was a big learning day for us. We had a chance, and that's all we can ask for."
NCAA Regional Selection Day is Monday, April 26. Twenty-four teams will be selected for each of the three regionals - the West regional in Palo Alto, Calif., the Central regional in Bloomington, Ind., and the East regional in Greenville, N.C.
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