Hayesville, N.C. - Stating that the Eastern Kentucky women's golf team is on fire through the fall portion of their 2016-17 season might be the understatement of the year.
Winners of consecutive team crowns entering this week's Bill Berg Invitational, the Colonels made it three-in-a-row on Tuesday at The Ridges Country Club, cruising to the team championship with a three-round score of 889 -- EKU's fifth, top-two finish this fall. The Colonels put four of their scoring five inside the overall top 13 including tournament individual medalist, Elsa Moberly.
Tournament-host Western Carolina collected its second-straight team runner-up hardware, edging third-place James Madison by two strokes. The Catamounts were paced by junior transfer Amanda Floberg, who carded a career -- and tournament -- low round of 3-under par, 69, on Tuesday. The Stockholm, Sweden native was the only golfer in the 66-person field to breach the 70-barrier over the 54-hole event over the par-72, 5,876-yard layout.
"Eastern Kentucky played amazing, and I am quite pleased with a second-place finish," said WCU first-year head coach Sara Anne McGetrick following the tournament closing ceremonies. "I am so incredibly proud of my team. Length off the tee really didn't come into play, so they did a great job of placing the ball where they wanted. They stayed patient -- this course was really trying because you're thinking so much that it's exhausting."
When asked about her individual leader -- and tournament runner-up -- Amanda Floberg, McGetrick lit up.
"So exciting -- that girl is amazing," McGetrick said. "She is so calm and has great course management. Every once in a while, it all comes together -- and it came together today. Just very consistent play and couldn't have happened to a harder working player."
Moberly fired a 1-over par, 217, over the three-round tournament to edge Floberg by two strokes as the Swede carded a 3-over par, 219. The top two were trailed by a three-way tie for third between Khushboo Thiagaraj of Radford, Julia Henderson of Gardner-Webb, and EKU's Amanda Lindahl five-strokes off the pace at 222.
For the Catamounts, Floberg -- who opened on the first hole -- carded four birdies including three on the front nine. She dropped to 4-under par through 14 holes before the lone blemish of her final round occurred with a bogey on the par-3 15th. All told, Floberg charted 13 pars on Tuesday's final 18 holes, finishing the tournament with 33.
Last week's individual winner, Natalia Villavicencio, came home in a tie for seventh overall with a three-day score of 225. The Santiago, Chile, product followed-up her opening round of 1-under par, 71, with back-to-back rounds of 5-over par, 77. The sophomore carded two more birdies on Tuesday, finishing the event with nine birdies, tied for the third-most. She also finished tied for second in par-5 scoring at 6-under (4.50).
Senior Ashley Thompson finished in a three-way tie for 24th overall with a three-round score of 232, shooting 81 on Tuesday. She was followed by junior transfer Alyssa Morahan in a tie for 32nd overall at 235 (80-77-78) and senior Bethany Galloway in 48th overall at 242 (78-80-84). Thompson, Morahan, and Galloway each charted a pair of birdies over the final 18 holes.
WCU was tied for the tournament team-lead in par-5 scoring at 10-under (4.83). The Catamounts were one of two teams to record multiple eagles with Villavicencio and Thompson.
Playing unattached as an individual for WCU in just her second collegiate event, freshman Brianna Plummer finished 65th overall with a three-round score of 262 (87-86-89), posting four birdies in the event.
After EKU, the standings were tight through the next five teams. WCU was second at 909 while James Madison came home third with a three-day score of 911. Appalachian State rallied to fourth with a tournament score of 913 with Marshall rounding out the top five a stroke back at 914, two strokes in front of Gardner-Webb in sixth at 916. Wofford (921) finished seventh, followed by Longwood (934), Presbyterian (944) and UNCG (945) rounding out the top 10. UNCG finished 11th at 950 with Radford (953) completing the field.
"Greg Parsons here at The Ridges was able to get everything to make it a very special tournament including lining up host families for the teams, which was something different. Meals provided every night, entertainment - it just made for a fun environment, especially being in such a beautiful place here in the mountains with the leaves changing. We couldn't have asked for better weather," said McGetrick. "It's such a great golf course and we can't thank all of the staff at The Ridges enough for their help in putting on a top-notch tournament."
Western Carolina wraps up the fall portion of its 2016-17 season in two weeks, returning to action at the Idle Hour Collegiate, hosted by Mercer at the Idle Hour Country Club in Macon, Ga.