The Lady Vols dropped one spot to fifth place after heading into the third round of the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship in fourth place. The fifth-place finish continues a streak of top five finishes at the very same tournament since 2008.
The two-day championship hosted at the Par-71 Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville concluded after the third-and-final round of play today.
Kent State won the championship shooting +18 (870), followed by second place Middle Tennessee, with a score of +23 (875). Charlotte and Illinois both finished at +24 (876), which was good for a third-place tie, and Tennessee, UTSA, and Eastern Kentucky +32 (884) tied for fifth place.
The weather on the course today was much nicer than day one of the tournament, with it being sunny and dry for the first time.
“The ball went a little bit further, so they had to adjust to that,” head coach Judi Pavon said. “The course was in amazing shape and it dried up well.”
The Lady Vols began the day with a shot at taking the lead and ended up slipping back to fifth place after Round 3.
“I was really excited about the way we started because we were still in contention,” Pavon said. “We made it until late in the back nine and then the wheels kind of fell off.”
Three Lady Vols finished inside the top 20. Mikayla Bardwell took seventh with three over par, Waverly Whitson (+7) finished tied for fourteenth, and Mariah Smith (+8) tied for eighteenth.
“Mikayla Bardwell had a great tournament,” Pavon said. “She played really well yesterday. She didn’t play quite today as well as she did yesterday, but she fought and hung in there and made some good saves for par and just had a really good tournament.”
“Waverly had a great round going today actually and she made three bogies coming in. She was five under at one point and finished two under. She had a good solid day.”
Whitson, a sophomore, finished tied for fourteenth, a jump from her 34th place finish last year in Knoxville.
“We looked at my putting yesterday after the round and got everything straightened out and I was definitely hitting a lot better today,” Whiston said. “In the last few days, I have spent a lot of time working on my game; hitting the green and a lot of putting.”
The Lady Vols will next take to the course on October 1-2 at the Starmount Classic in Greensboro, North Carolina hosted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.