Pooler, Ga. - Western Carolina had two golfers finish among the individual top 20 on Monday as both senior Kim Mitchell and freshman Maddi Caldwell placed among a tie for 20th as the 2016 Southern Conference Women's Golf Championship concluded at the par-72, 6,087-yard Savannah Quarters Country Club. WCU's top finishing duo both finished the event with three-round scores of 235.
With inclement weather in Tuesday's forecast, the decision was made to play 36 holes Monday.
Opening the final day of competition on the par-4 16th, Mitchell recorded 10 pars and a pair of birdies over her first 12 holes, sitting at 2-under par with six holes to play in the second round. She finished with three bogies and three pars to shoot a 1-over par round of 73 heading into the final 18 of the third round.
Three consecutive bogies to start the third round left the Woodbridge, Va., native 3-over headed to the front nine. Mitchell countered three bogies and a double-bogey with five pars, sitting an 8-over par with six holes to play. The senior came home with a trio of birdies and three bogies, shooting 80 to conclude the tournament.
Caldwell, who posted rounds of 84 and 72 on Monday, advanced 10 spots over the final 18 holes to rally for the top 20 finish in her first conference championship event. In the second round, she posted eight pars with eight bogies and two double-bogies to slip from her first-round 13th-place tie to 32nd with 18 holes to play.
The rookie from Dawsonville, Ga., rallied over the final round, birdying two of her first four holes to start out at 2-under par. Following a bogey on the par-5 17th, Caldwell charted a third birdie and an eagle on the par-5 third - one of just three in the field - to move to 4-under par with seven holes to play. After a double-bogey and two bogies, Caldwell finished with three pars for the even-par, 72.
Senior Mariah Hopkins came home in 26th overall with a two-day score of 239, shooting 78 and 81 over the final day of competition. She matched Mitchell with a team-best six birdies in the championship including four in the second round.
Furman won its second-straight - and conference-record 15th - team championship by 14 strokes over runner-up, Chattanooga. The Paladins placed all four counting scores inside the top five, carding a three-round score of 11-over par, 875, with the Mocs finishing at 889.
With the win, Furman clinched the SoCon's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. The NCAA field will be announced live on the Golf Channel during "Golf Central" from 6-7 pm on Monday, April 25.
East Tennessee State finished third with a score of 897 with Mercer (914) and Samford (937) rounding out the top five. WCU (948) finished sixth, 10 strokes ahead of Wofford (958) in seventh, with UNCG (973) and The Citadel (1,072) rounding out the tournament field.
The top two finishing teams also had the top two individuals as Furman's Alice Chen and UTC's Megan Woods finished tied atop the leaderboard at the end of regulation at 5-over par, 218. After five playoff holes, Woods edged Chen to claim the individual medalist honors. Chen missed a four-foot par putt on the fifth playoff hole and Woods sank a 3-foot par attempt on the par-5 fifth to clinch her first collegiate victory and become Chattanooga's fifth SoCon medalist in sixth years.