The Wofford Terriers completed their best season with their best finish in the SoCon Championship, but they did it with mixed emotions.
Finishing second, the highest finish in the program’s history was significant, but the Terriers were so close to an even bigger accomplishment.
“We played so well this week and this year, but,” said Angie Ridgeway, the Wofford Coach.
Ridgeway was having a hard time deciding how to accept congratulations on the programs best SoCon finish while knowing a few shots could have changed a runner-up finish into a conference championship.
Furman won the SoCon Tournament championship by four-shots over the Terriers.
“It was impressive the way we played. We played with real confidence and a belief in each other, and played with a lot of grit, “said the Terrier coach.
Wofford was 9 shots behind Furman at the end of the first round.
Because of weather concerns the second round began immediately after the first with hopes of completing play before darkness.
The second round was not completed, but the Terriers seemed to handle the difficult conditions a little better than the rest of the field.
“The scoring conditions were very difficult in the second round and we handled it well,” she said.
The bad weather prevented play on Monday so the completion of the second round and final round of the event would both be played on Tuesday.
When the round was completed Wofford shot the best second round, a 294, and would move on to the final round tied with Furman.
Trying to save time and keep the event on schedule the field was not re-set and teams played with the same groupings for all three rounds.
The Terriers played with Chattanooga and UNC Greensboro for the third time.
While continues play eliminated the head to head match up between the Lady Paladins and the Terriers, it did set up a head to head match up for the individual championship.
The Terriers Beca Earl had completed all but two of her holes when play was stopped the first day. She came back to birdie one of her two holes to card a 5-under par 67.
“I played pretty steady and got back on my rhythm,” said the Terrier from Essex, England.
Earl’s second round was the best round shot in the tournament, no other golfer posted a score in the 60s in any round at Barefoot Landing’s Dye Course in North Myrtle Beach.
When Earl shaved ten shots off her first round score it meant she and Chattanooga’s Dorota Zalewska would enter the final round tied for second place 2-shots behind Furman’s Sophia Burnett.
As each team’s number one player, the two had played in the same group for the first two rounds and now it would be three.
In the final round Burnett struggled on the front nine and lost the lead.
Earl and Zalewska battled even until the 15th hole when Earl bogeyed to allow Zalewska to take a 1-shot lead. Both golfers parred 16.
On 17, Zalewska was the last to hit in the group. Her tee shot on the 110 yard par-3 went in the hole.
“We didn’t see it, but we heard people around the green yelling,” said Earl.
The Terrier senior ran in a 25 foot birdie putt on the hole but was now two-behind with one hole to play.
On the final hole Earl chipped in from a bunker for a birdie, but Zalewska sank an 8-foot par putt to win by a shot.
“I really didn’t see much (at the end) because I was crying,” said Earl. “It wasn’t because I didn’t win it was because I knew it was my last time playing at Wofford,” she said.
Earl finished her time with the Terriers as the most successful golfer in the program’s history. She earned three wins including the championship at this year’s Lady Bison Bay Point Classic. She also posted three other top-10 finishes this spring.
“I don’t have the number in front of me, but I know she has the best stroke average ever and she has been a team leader all four years,” said Ridgeway.
“It was our goal to win this week. We thought if we could play our best for three rounds we could win. We did what we could control. As a team we played well and had fun being together as a team,” she said.
The Terrier’s lose Earl and Speedy Kent from their SoCon tournament lineup, but Ridgeway believes the progress the team has made the last few year’s puts the Terriers in a better competitive position for the future.
“We have two rising seniors in Nicole Amos (T-11) and Lindsay Hollis (T-13) who both had good tournaments. Freshman Maggie Jackson has been in the lineup for every tournament this year and we have some good players coming in,” said Ridgeway.
The Terriers best previous SoCon championship finish was fourth place in 2015.
“I’m so proud of this team. There is no disappointment in the effort. This team has raised the bar for Wofford Golf,” concluded the Terrier’s coach.
Southern Conference Women’s Championship scores https://results.golfstat.com//public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=25300