For the first time in four years, the University of Tennessee women's golf team found itself at the top of the leader board at the completion of a tournament. With a back injury forcing junior Young-A Yang to withdraw prior to round three, the team hit the course knowing that solid rounds were necessary. Consequently, the four players combined to shoot the lowest round at the Green Wave Women's Golf Classic a 305.
The Lady Vols entered the day with a six-stroke lead over Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt, only to build that lead to a whopping 21 shots by the end of the day. The win is the first for the Lady Vols since 1997, when the team claimed the Duke Spring Invitational, and is the first under first-year head coach Judi Pavon. The result also matches the biggest margin of victory for UT previously set at the 1994 Memphis Women's Intercollegiate, as UT bested Lamar by 21 strokes.
With Yang out on the sidelines, fellow juniors Tina Schneeberger and Carrie Cole stepped up their games to shoot final round 75s. Schneeberger's round vaulted her into a tie for first with Vanderbilt's Meredith Ward. After her birdie putt rolled in on the first playoff hole, Schneeberger brought home medallist honors for the first time in her career, and became the sixth different golfer to win a tournament in school history.
Cole jumped nine places from 16th into a tie for seventh place on the final day for her best career finish and the initial top-10 finish in her career. Sophomore Erin Simmons, who led after two rounds of play, fired a final-round 78 to finish third with a total of 228. Freshman Tai Perry continued her solid play of late with her sixth straight score of under 80 with a 77 to finish in a tie for 12th.
I am proud of the way the team stepped up their play with Young-A out, Pavon said. We didn't start out all that well, but the team hung in there and pulled it out in the end.
I am thrilled and excited for Tina; she recorded an eagle and several birdies in the final round to remain in contention and kept her focus in the playoff.