March 16, 2014
Orange Park, Fla. - Western Carolina concluded its two-tournament swing through the Sunshine State on Sunday, finishing seventh overall (908) at the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational on a windy final day at the par-72, 6,282-yard, Eagle Landing Golf Club. Sunday's finish represented the seventh, top 10 finish for the Catamounts on the year.
Sophomore Kristin Swindell led the Catamounts in the tournament, posting her best round of the event - and the second-best of her first year at WCU - with a one-under par, 71, to shoot 220 and finished among a three-way tie for fourth place. For Swindell, the fourth-place finish is her fourth top 10 of the season, and her second-consecutive top five showing after finishing as the runner-up in the UNF Intercollegiate earlier on the trip into her home state of Florida.
Swindell opened her round with a bogey on the par-4 first, but played even par the remainder of the front nine to make the turn at one-over. The Bradenton native carded birdies on the par-4 12th and par-3 16th with seven additional pars to record the one-under round. Swindell tallied six birdies over the three-round event.
Sophomore Mariah Hopkins continued her charge to the front of the field, advancing eight spots to record her best individual finish since early in the fall by placing in a five-way tie for 26th overall. Hopkins shot two-over, 74, on Sunday for a three-day total of 226, her career-best 54-hole score. On Sunday, Hopkins countered four bogies with a pair of birdies for her two-over round. The Greensboro, N.C. product, charted seven birdies in the tournament.
WCU's top golfer after the first round, sophomore Kim Mitchell finished tied for 35th overall with a three-round score of 229. Rounding out the Catamounts' scoring five was sophomore Taylor Allison in a tie for 57th at 236 and freshman Olivia Landino in a tie for 74th at 244.
Playing unattached as individuals, WCU freshman Ashley Thompson finished tied for 44th at 233 after a final round, four-over par, 76, and classmate Bethany Galloway was tied for 74th at 244. Galloway matched Hopkins for the team-high with seven birdies over the 54-hole tournament.
Elon rallied to the top of the team leader board to claim the tournament championship, putting two individuals inside the top 10. The Phoenix shot 299 on Sunday to claim a four-stroke victory over second-round leader, Georgia State, 892-to-896. First-round leader, Delaware, finished third at 899 followed by Southern Illinois (901) and Daytona State (903) to close out the top five.
Another SoCon foe, Samford, was sixth at 906, just two strokes ahead of the Catamounts in seventh, while Wofford finished tied for eighth at 913. A fifth league team, UNCG, finished tied for 14th with a three-day score of 937.
Tiffany Chan of Daytona State claimed her second-straight individual medalist honors, rallying from her runner-up position entering the final round to take the top spot by three-strokes over Maria Palacios of Georgia State. Chan completed the tournament at one-under par, 215, while Palacios was three strokes off the pace at two-over par, 218. Morehead State's Vanessa Bognot ranked third, one stroke back at 219 to round out the top three individual finishers.
Western Carolina returns to action at the Low Country Intercollegiate, hosted by Wofford at the Moss Creek Golf Club - the site of the 2014 SoCon Women's Golf Championship in mid-April. WCU looks to defend its team championship from the event at the Hilton Head Island, S.C., venue. Hopkins finished third as WCU put two amongst the top five individual finishers in a four-stroke team victory.