The 11th-ranked Lady Volunteer golf team turned in an even-par 288, to surge to a second-place finish as the 2006 Southeastern Conference Women’s Golf Championship concluded Sunday afternoon.
Tennessee tracked down No. 5 Auburn, which successfully defended its title by the narrowest of margins. The Tigers wrapped up play with a three-day total of 875, which was just enough to hold off Tennessee. The Lady Vols’ tally of 876 equals the fifth-lowest 54-hole score in program history, and it lifted them to their best showing at the league championships since 1999.
“We are really disappointed to have lost the tournament by one shot, but I couldn’t be prouder of the way the team played,” coach Judi Pavon said. “They were competitive, poised and determined all day. Auburn had some key birdies on the last hole to come out on top.
“Every player on our team contributed to this great weekend, and we didn’t leave anything out there. Auburn is a top-five team, and we almost got them this week.”
Tennessee, which entered the day down by six strokes, kept pace with AU through the first three holes. UT trimmed the lead to five through six holes, but was unable to get cut into it further as the squads made the turn for the back nine.
During the final three holes, Tennessee kept the pressure on by playing even par. The Tigers were able to escape with the win, however, thanks in parts to the efforts of tournament medalist Maria Martinez who finished with a flurry. The senior went par-birdie-birdie to seal the crown for AU.
Individually for the Lady Vols, Marci Turner led the way. The sophomore came through again for the Lady Vols on Sunday. Already the owner of five rounds below par this season during the last day of a tournament, Turner added to that total with a three-under-par 69.
After two rounds, Golda Johansson was locked in on Sunday. The senior carded a one-below-par 71. The effort matches Johansson’s career best at the event, while also equaling the second-lowest closing round by a UT senior at SECs. She finished in 29th, with a score of 227.
Nicole Smith had a rocky start with back-to-back bogeys before settling in nicely. The freshman went on to play the final 16 holes at two-under par, cashing in on four birdie opportunities while limiting herself to just a pair of bogeys. She signed her scorecard at even-par-72, the second-lowest final-day tally by at UT rookie at the league tilt.
Smith’s effort during the final two days (71-72) propelled her to her fourth straight top-10 showing, as she finished in a tie for seventh place with a score of 221.
Holly Cantwell turned in her third consecutive solid effort by recording a score of four-over-par 76. It was a taxing start for Cantwell as bogeys plagued her in four of the first six holes. Cantwell played the final 12 holes at one-over par. Overall, she made par or better at 11 holes, including three birdies. Cantwell concludes the event in a tie for 12th place with a sum of 222.
Violeta Retamoza had a demanding final round. The senior stood at five-over par just five holes into her round, but similar to Friday, she would rally. The two-time All-American played the final 13 holes at one-over par, which was highlighted by a birdie at the par-four 13th. The 2005 SEC Player of the Year wrapped up competition in a tie for 21st with a sum of 225.