May 21, 2011
The Vanderbilt women’s golf team ended their second consecutive NCAA Championship berth in a tie for 10th place with Florida at The Tradition Golf Club in Bryan, Texas, with a final team score of 1196 (297-294-304-301) at the 2011 edition of the tournament. Sophomore Anna Leigh Keith paced the Commodore effort with a five-over par, 293 (72-72-74-75), which tied her for 15th on the individual leaderboard.
Saturday’s round, which began an hour late because six teams had to finish their third round in the morning, presented a whole new set of conditions for the teams in the field after clouds dumped some much needed rain overnight in the Bryan area. The wind also subsided, and although the course played a little longer, players honed in on the final-round pins and shot lower numbers.
The Commodores were one of those teams who had no trouble placing the ball on the greens, but had a harder time converting on their opportunities in the final round.
“We had some three putts,” said Vanderbilt head coach Greg Allen. “I know Marina was frustrated with her putting, because she felt like she hit the ball really well. We just didn’t hit any putts. Overall, I think we hit the ball well. “I think the conditions were ideal. There was not a lot of wind, and it was hot and humid. It was a little wet, the greens were a little more receptive, but we had no wind compared to the previous three days.”
Keith, who led the Commodores heading into the final round, fired a three-over par, 75, on Saturday, and ended the tournament in a tie for 15th. Junior Marina Alex posted the team’s best round of the day with a one-over, 73, and finished in a tie for 22nd, while the Commodores also counted a 76 from sophomore Lauren Stratton (76-74-76-76=302, T-53) and a 77 from senior Megan Grehan (80-76-83-77=316, T-108). Freshman Rene Sobolewski carded a final-round 81, and ended the tournament in a tie for 88th place with a final total of 310 (77-72-80-81).
“It was a phenomenal tournament for Eddie (Anna Leigh Keith),” said Allen. “She’s been strong since SEC’s and just had a great tournament. I’m really excited for her. She played some great golf this week and she’s got a bright future ahead of her.”
UCLA won in a closely contested final round over second-place Purdue by four strokes with a total of 1173 (289-295-294-295). Both teams battled back and forth for the top spot for most of the day on Saturday. LSU, the top finishing SEC team, finished in third with a 29-over par, 1181 (292-296-303-290).
LSU’s Austin Ernst claimed medalist honors with a seven-under par, 281 (72-66-77-66), and her final round included a hole-in-one on number two. Anna Leigh Keith, who played with Ernst in her round on Saturday, also saw a hole-in-one from Virginia’s Brittany Altomare on hole 16 on Friday.
“I told the team when we finished that I would have taken a 10th place finish standing on the 11th tee at regionals when we were making double bogeys and triple bogeys,” said Allen. “I’ll take this. This was a learning experience for us the last two days on how to handle some tough conditions and a lot of pressure-packed golf. It was fun, I think the girls enjoyed it, and it was certainly fun to watch them battling out there. We did a lot of great things. We’re going to hold our heads up high, move forward, and look forward to hosting the national championship next year.”