The Lady Paladins scored their second straight second place finish. Furman finished as runner-up to North Carolina after battling the Tarheels for the final two rounds at the Cougar Classic played at Yeamans Hall in Hanahan.
Furman led the first two rounds of the tournament hosted by the College of Charleston. The Lady Paladins captured the first round lead when the team shot a program best score of 10-under par 278.
“We, obviously, had a great round, and I am very proud of the team,” said Furman head coach Jeff Hull. “We played steady all day but caught fire coming in. We had 13 birdies and two eagles on the back nine. There is a lot of golf left to play, but we were excited about the start,” he added.
The Lady Paladins didn’t match their first round total the second day, but played well enough to hold a one stroke lead over North Carolina going into the final round.
One of the keys for Furman the first two days, was the play of freshman Natalie Srinivasan. The 2016 South Carolina AAAA girls champion played anything but like a freshman.
Srinivasan shot an opening round 3-under par 69 and followed it up with a 6-under par 66. She birdied seven of her last ten holes to share the individual lead with Sierra Sims of Wake Forrest.
“It was exciting, I wasn’t too nervous,” said Srinivasan. “I just stuck with my process. It was really fun playing in the last group,” she said.
Srinivasan didn’t believe that she would be nervous playing in the final group, but she shot a a final round 4-over par 76 to drop back into a tie for eighth place.
Her teammate Haylee Harford picked up some of the shots that got away from Srinivasan. Harford, who won the season opening tournament in Minnesota, shot a final round 71 to move up into a three way tie for fourth place.
“We have been playing super-well so far this year,” said Harford. “I know everyone on the team has worked very hard for us to be in this position,” she said.
Carly Burkhardt, another Furman freshman, put together the best round for the Lady Paladins on the final day. Burkhardt shot a 4-under par 68 to finish in a tie with her teammate Taylor Totland for thirteenth place.
“Carly’s round really helped to keep us in it. She had been having a little trouble with her wrist and we were not even sure she would be able to play, but she did and she made a difference for us,” said Hull
The Lady Paladins placed four golfers in the top 13, but North Carolina on the strength of medalist Kelly Whaley’s final round 68 helped the Tarheels move past the Lady Paladins and claim an eight shot victory in the tournament.
Gamecock golfer Katelyn Dambaugh finished in second place just one shot behind Whaley.
Furman has been the only non Power 5 conference team to be ranked in the top-20 so far this year and with a win and two second place finishes against strong competition the Lady Paladins believe they are deserving of the ranking and hope to go even higher in the poll.
“We played very well, but we made just a couple of mistakes. I don’t think it was nerves. We had a good chance to win our tournament and a good chance here. Our goal is to be in contention on the final nine holes and we were able to do that,” concluded Hull.
See an interview with Furman golf coach Jeff Hull