It has been a few years since Cayla Smith played a golf tournament near her home in Easley. The High Point University Senior was a two-time South Carolina high school state champion at Wren before going to school at High Point.
Smith opened the tournament with a 3-under par 69 to hold a two shot lead going into the final round. Her first round score was a career best for Smith.
The Panther golfer gained a big advantage off the tee as she was able to shorten the course.
“I was on all the par-5s in two so they played like long par-4s for me,” said Smith. “I was able to make some putts and just about everything was working for me,” she added.
The second round was more of a challenge. Smith lost the lead but regained it late in the round to earn her first college victory.
“It is such a big jump from high school golf to college golf. There are so many players who can win it is super awesome to get a win,” she said.
While High Point does not play many tournaments in the area. Smith could call on her experience in high school to help her play the course.
“I played here for a regional in high school. I remembered a little about the greens and how they break. The greens were perfect,” said Smith.
Smith’s victory helped lead the Panthers to the team title. High Point finished eight shots in front of Georgia Southern. It was the second win in a row for the Panthers.
Three golfers tied for second place. Natalie Peterson of Georgia Southern, Celia Mansour of Presbyterian and Pan Paksanont of USC Upstate all finsished at 144.
Paksanont shot the best round of the tournament posting a 5-under par 67. Her round included 8 birdies and a near miss on one more that kept her from being alone in second place.
The Upstate sophomore helped her team finish in fourth place while tournament host Wofford ended up in fifth place.