TUSCALOOSA, Ala. After struggling in the opening round of the University of Central Florida Challenge, the Alabama women’s golf squad demonstrated its ability to come back, firing lower scores in each of its final two rounds to finish in a tie for eighth at the Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla.
“After the first nine holes of the first day, we actually played pretty well,” Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. “I come away from this tournament feeling like we can play with just about anyone. We need to all be playing at our best and keep improving to get there, but this team has a chance to be a good one by the end of the season.”
The Tide carded a 300 in its final round of play on Tuesday, knocking one stroke off of a 301 posted in the second round while shaving 21 strokes from the 321 the team had in the first round. Alabama finished with a 54-hole tally of 922, tying for eighth-place with New Mexico.
Defending NCAA champion Duke won the team title over highly-rated Georgia. The Blue Devils put together a winning score of 860 to run away with the team title. Pepperdine, Vanderbilt and Florida also finished in the top five at the 13-team event.
Laura Goodwin, a sophomore from Birmingham, led the way for the Tide in the concluding round. Goodwin shot a 1-under 71 that included four birdies to recover from a rough first day that saw her tally rounds of 87 and 82. Goodwin finished with a 240 and tied for 56th place overall.
“Laura was really solid today, she hit it very well,” Potter said. “She is so long that she can give herself a huge advantage if she keeps it in play, and she really putted it well today, as well as anyone has all season. It was good to get her some confidence.”
Junior Sarah Sturm had the best 54-hole score at the Challenge for Alabama. She posted a 75 in the final round after scores of 78 and 72 on day one and tied for 15th place in the individual standings.
“Sarah had two double bogeys today and bounced back well from them,” Potter said. “It was a nice solid ball-striking day for her and her iron play was a lot better than it was last week.”
All-American senior Jenny Suh carded identical scores of 75 in her final two rounds to finish in the top 25. After recording a 78 in the opening round, Suh moved up the leaderboard on both succeeding rounds and tied for 24th place at the event.
Rhea Nair posted a 240 and joined Goodwin in a tie for 56th place, while true freshman Helena Blomberg finished with a 246 and a tie for 65th place.
Alabama next competes on March 16-18, when UA travels to Baton Rouge, La., to compete in the LSU/Cleveland Classic.