Hayesville, N.C. - For a second-straight year, a women's golf team riding a wave of confidence through the fall portion of its schedule found itself atop the heap as play concluded Tuesday afternoon at the 2017 Bill Berg Invitational.
In the inaugural year of the event, it was two-time seasonal winner -- and two-time runner-up -- Eastern Kentucky that took home its fourth trophy, claiming the 2016 Bill Berg Invitational. This year, it was another two-time seasonal winner, Richmond, which left the mountain course at The Ridges Country Club with the hardware.
Second only after the opening 18 holes, the Spiders cruised to team championship with a three-round score of 910 (302-309-299) to best the 15-team field by 14 strokes over runner-up, Winthrop (924) which posted the best final round team score of 301. Last year's champion, Eastern Kentucky, rallied to a third-place tie with High Point at 927, while Marshall (932) rounded out the top five.
The race for individual medalist honors was much tighter and came down to the final round to decide as Presbyterian's Maiken Bing Paulsen edged defending champion, EKU's Elsa Moberly, by a single stroke. Paulsen posted a 54-hole score of 221 (71-77-73) -- third-best, three-round score in the brief history of the event -- to rally from third entering the last day, overtaking Moberly who sat in the runner-up spot after 36 holes, finishing with a three-round score of 222.
"We had a great time out here at The Ridges -- the staff is incredibly awesome in helping us run this tournament. Greg Parsons, our tournament director, did everything to make this tournament into a very well-run event," said WCU second-year head coach Sara Anne McGetrick. "The weather gave us a little bit of an issue. We had some rain (Monday) that soaked the course and made things a little more difficult. And then today, we had a frost delay. But, other than that, the conditions were great."
Tournament-host, Western Carolina, came home 11th where it started the final day of competition, matching its best overall finish of the season. The Catamounts finished the final round with a score of 317, posting a three-day score of 950, the lowest this fall.
Senior Alyssa Morahan paced the Catamount scoring five, posting the best finish of her two-year WCU career by placing in a tie for 13th overall. The North Reading, Mass., product finished with a 54-hole score of 230, shooting rounds of 79, 77, and 74, matching her second-lowest round in the Purple & Gold. On Tuesday, Morahan countered four bogies with a pair of birdies to shoot the 2-over par round.
Freshman Hazel Martin continued her strong play in her first collegiate season, placing in a tie for 25th overall with her best three-round score of 235. The Brisbane, Australia, native slipped with an 82 on Tuesday. She was followed by senior Amanda Floberg in 50th with a score of 243 (80-84-79), while sophomore Brianna Plummer came home in a tie for 55th overall at 245 (87-76-82). Freshman Maya White rounded out WCU's scoring five in 69th-place with a score of 255 (84-88-83).
Playing unattached as individuals, WCU saw junior transfer Sharon Heerey finish in a tie for 74th (93-83-84 = 260), while freshmen Harper Gilreath (93-84-84 = 261) and Cameron Wood (90-91-87 = 268) came home 76th and 81st, respectively.
"Our team played well. Some of the girls that I knew were right on the verge showed me what they're capable of. All I ask is that they make a little progress, get a little better every day and I saw that happen and that makes me very proud," McGetrick said.
Western Carolina plays its fifth and final event of the fall portion of the schedule Oct. 23-24 as the Catamounts travel to the Country Club of Spartanburg for the Terrier Intercollegiate. Leading after the first round a season ago, the Catamounts posted a runner-up finish at last year's event.