Staff Report: SPORTS

Friday, the Tennessee women’s golf team traveled to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to participate in the seventh annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, a three-round tournament held at the par-71 Long Cove Club’s Pete Dye golf course until March 4.

The Lady Vols faced a tough field of 18 teams, 10 of which were ranked within Golf Stat’s Top 25, including six in the top 10.

The first round began on Friday, March 2 at 8:30 a.m., with Tennessee finishing in 15th place at 300 strokes even. However, just 14 strokes behind the leader of the pack, No. 2 Alabama, the Lady Vols had a lot of room for improvement in the coming rounds.

Senior Anna Newell, one of Tennessee’s standouts, led the Lady Vols on the day, shooting two over par (73) to finish in 23rd place. Sophomore Michaela Williams was not far behind in terms of strokes, at 75, but was well down in the standings and tied for 42nd.

The other three Lady Vols participating in the tournament, senior Blakesly Warren (76), junior Ariana Macioce (76) and freshman Waverly Whiston (77), finished tied for 56th and tied for 67th, respectively.

With much room to move up in the rankings, Tennessee teed off at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday for the second round of the tournament. Paired off with No. 8 South Carolina and Baylor, the Lady Vols began play on hole 10.

Though Tennessee shot 305, worse than its round one total, the team was able to move up one spot in the rankings to tie for 14th place.

Tennessee shot a little bit worse as a whole due to the conditions that day, which head coach Judi Pavon described as “cold (and) windy,” but it was still able to poise itself for a top 10 finish, just 15 strokes behind then-fifth place Wake Forest, at 605.

Whiston actually saw an improvement in her strokes on that tough day, finishing two better at 75 to move 17 spots up into 50th place. Macioce shot an identical 76 in round two to move up six spots and tie Whiston for 50th.

While Whiston experienced a better round and Macioce stayed the same, seniors Newell and Warren both struggled in the second round, seeing an increase in their stroke numbers. They both shot six over par for 77 strokes. This caused Newell to drop eight spots, to 31, though Warren actually rose two spots, to 54.

Williams saw the greatest increase in stroke count, taking 81 swings to complete the course and dropping 33 spots to 75th entering round three.

Tennessee got started at 8:50 a.m. on Sunday, pairing with Mississippi State and Baylor and hunting a top-10 spot.

Despite a strong showing and finish from Whiston, Tennessee fell short of its top-10 goal. The team actually fell two spots to 16th to finish the tournament, shooting 302 in the third round and finishing with an overall count of 907.

However, Whiston found a bright spot despite the disappointing finish. Sunday was one of the strongest days of the entire tournament. She turned in eight pars to finish at 71, the course’s par. This performance sky-rocketed her 25 spots to tie for 25th, marking her third top-25 appearance in her young career.

Newell finished tied for 51st with a 78-stroke performance on the final day. She was followed by Warren, who finished at 77 to place tied for 62nd. Williams finished in 69th, and Macioce dropped two spots in her first tournament of the spring to 83.

No. 2 Alabama (866) would end up taking home the title, followed by No. 3 Arkansas (874) in second and Wake Forest (878) in third.

Tennessee will swing into action next on March 10, when the Lady Vols travel to Gainesville, Florida, to participate in the University of Florida's Suntrust Gator Invitational.

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