HILTON HEAD, S.C. – UNCG women’s golf wrapped up the 2017-18 season Tuesday afternoon at the Southern Conference Tournament in South Carolina The Spartans improved on their team score in the third round shooting a tournament-low 318 on the final day. The Spartans finished in fifth place, 12-strokes behind the Samford Bulldogs. The Furman Paladins took home their fourth-straight team title, shooting a combined 33-over par in the three-day tournament.
Individually, the top four finishers in the tournament were Paladins, led by Reona Hirai. Hirai shot six over through the three rounds and finished the final day one over. Natalie Srinivasan came in second with a score of 10-over for the round. Alice Chen and Haylee Harford finished tied for third with Payton Schanen of Mercer. Chen shot two-over on the day with Harford shooting one-over. The three finished with identical scores of 11-over par in the tournament.
Freshman Keri Kenkel earned UNCG’s highest finish of the tournament, coming in tied for 13th. Kenkel shot 19-over in three rounds. She finished the first two rounds with identical scores of 79 before shooting a 77 in the final round. The final day saw Kenkel earn 13 pars and a birdie for her score of five-over.
“I’m really happy with my finish today to round out the week.” Kenkel said, “I finally saw some putts go in and I managed my game well. I’m proud of the team for finishing strong on the final day. I can’t believe my freshman year is already over and I’ve learned so much from this experience. Our team has a really bright future so I can’t wait to see what we’re going to do in the next few years.”
Freshman Tara Bettle finished 21st after shooting nine-over in the final round. Bettle finished the tournament with a score of 25-over. On the final day, Bettle recorded nine pars and a birdie in the final round.
“Freshman year was a blast, I always had so much fun competing with the girls.” Bettle said, “Although we didn’t quite finish off the season as we would have liked at conference, I am still proud of all we have accomplished together and I am excited for the next three years with this amazing team.”
Sophomore Louisa Tichy was right on Bettle’s heels as she finished tied with Mercer’s Karina Kukkonen Tichy shot 26-over and improved her score by eight strokes in the final round. Tichy shot 13 pars and a birdie to earn a score of four-over in the final round.
“My first two days at the SoCon Tournament were rough.” Tichy said, “I am proud of how I fought back and finished with a four-over par round today. We did a good job as a team even though the weather conditions were difficult. I can’t believe I am now halfway through my collegiate career and I can’t wait to see what we have in store for next season.”
Junior Natalia Asensio shot 12-over on the day to finish the tournament in 27th place. Asensio shot 30-over in the three-day event and a total of 246. She finished the final round with eight pars.
“I can’t believe my junior year is over.” Asensio said, “It’s been a really good year for us overall as a team. We have been able to beat some records and work our way up in the ranking. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to do this with. They have all been amazing on and off the course and I am so happy I get to be with them for another year. I’m excited for my senior year and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.”
Rounding out the scoring was Savanna Mackie. Mackie finished the final day with a score of 15-over. Mackie finished the tournament in 34th place, with a total score of 43-over. In the final round, she shot five pars and picked up two birdies on the back nine.
“I’m two years out of competitive collegiate golf, so when coach asked me to come back and play for conference I was a little shocked.” Mackie said, “However, I can’t thank Coach J enough for that phone call, and being able to get back out on the course one last time has been such a blessing. The weather was a little tough the first two rounds, but the course was in good shape and I enjoyed being able to see what I can still do.”