FRANKLIN, Tenn. —The South Carolina women’s golf team wrapped up one of the most successful seasons in program history on Friday as it posted a final-round 293 (+5) to finish in fifth-place at the 2012 NCAA Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club.
The Gamecocks closed out the week with a four-round total of 1,176, which is the lowest 72-hole score in program history, breaking the previous record of 1,186 from the 2010 NCAA Championship. Carolina’s fifth-place finish is also the program’s best finish at a NCAA Championship, surpassing the 1995 team’s tie for ninth showing. The Gamecocks came up just five strokes short of first place.
“I was really proud of the way that they fought all day,” South Carolina head coach Kalen Harris said. “They went out to play to win this deal and they hung in there all day. We finished very strong, which I was exceptionally happy about. It was a tough day. Five-over was a very strong round. It wasn’t enough, but we walk away with our heads very high.”
As she has for the majority of her career, senior Katie Burnett closed out her final tournament by leaving her mark on the Gamecock record book. The Brunswick, Ga., native carded a final-round 73 (+1) to claim fifth place with a total of 288 (E), which is the best finish ever by a Gamecock at the NCAA Championship. Her 72-hole score is also the second best all-time at South Carolina, as she came up two strokes short of her total of 286 at the 2010 NCAA Championship. Burnett leaves the program as the all-time leader in scoring with a career average of 74.18. The top-five finish is the eighth of her career, moving her into a tie with Benedicte Toumpsin for third in career top-five showings. Burnett’s final scorecard as a Gamecock consisted of six birdies, two bogeys, a double bogey, a triple bogey and eight pars.
“Words can’t say enough about Katie,” Harris said of Burnett, who has been the Gamecocks’ top finisher in 12 straight tournaments dating back to last season. “She’s been a tremendous leader for us and has made a tremendous impact. Her golf speaks for itself. She is going to have an unbelievable professional career. I wish Katie the best. She’s going to be hard shoes to fill.”
Junior Amanda Strang put together her best round of the week as she fired a 2-under 70 to lead the squad on Friday. She finished in a tie for 21st with a total of 294 (+6), making it her best NCAA Championship showing in three tries. Strang had a stellar front nine with three birdies and six pars to make the turn at 3-under. She hit a rough stretch with three bogeys on her first four holes on the back nine but she finished strong, recording birdies on her final two holes to head into the clubhouse at 2-under. Strang lowered her career scoring average to 76.07 to move into fifth place all-time at Carolina.
Junior Meredith Swanson, who battled back from a sluggish start in the first round, closed out a solid week with a final-round 78 (+6) to finish in a tie for 59th with a total of 300 (+12). Swanson recorded six bogeys and 12 pars for her round.
Freshman Justine Dreher and sophomore Suzie Lee each posted a 3-over 75 to count toward the team’s total on Friday. Dreher tied for 77th with a total of 304 (+16), while Lee tied for 84th with a total of 305 (+17).
Dreher played her best round of the tournament, recording two birdies, five bogeys and 11 pars. She closes out her freshman campaign with a scoring average of 75.5, which ranks third all-time for a freshman at South Carolina. Lee carded one birdie, four bogeys and 14 pars on the day.
“I can’t say enough about this team,” Harris said. “They really came on late in the season, which is a good time to start peaking. They have a lot of heart and are a tough team, which is very important to me. They have just taken on the characteristics that (director of golf) Puggy (Blackmon) and I love. They have bought in, and I could not be prouder of this team.”
Second-ranked Alabama became the first SEC team to win a national title since 2001 by posting a final round 294 (+6), winning by one stroke over Southern California with a total of 1,171 (+19). LSU placed third with a score of 1,173 (+21), while Virginia took fourth with a total of 1,175 (+23). Oklahoma’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil claimed medalist honors with a total of 282 (-6).
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS
5. Katie Burnett 74-67-74-73=288 (E)
T21. Amanda Strang 75-73-76-70=294 (+6)
T59. Meredith Swanson 76-71-75-78=300 (+12)
T77. Justine Dreher 77-77-75-75=304 (+16)
T84. Suzie Lee 79-70-81-75=305 (+17)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. Alabama 286-285-306-294=1171 (+19)
2. Southern Cal 297-288-294-293=1172 (+20)
3. LSU 293-294-297-289=1173 (+21)
4. Virginia 288-294-301-292=1175 (+23)
5. South Carolina 302-281-300-293=1176 (+24)
T6. Arizona State 292-291-304-292=1179 (+27)
T6. Oklahoma 294-299-295-291=1179 (+27)
8. UCLA 292-290-306-293=1181 (+29)
9. Purdue 293-295-295-299=1182 (+30)
10. North Carolina 290-292-303-299=1184 (+32)
11. Vanderbilt 306-284-311-285 =1186 (+34)
12. Florida 302-293-297-298=1190 (+38)
T13. Texas 297-295-313-286=1191 (+39)
T13. NC State 299-294-305-293=1191 (+39)
15. Duke 289-302-301-300=1192 (+40)
T16. Baylor 299-304-300-290=1193 (+41)
T16. Texas A&M 301-298-300-294=1193 (+41)
18. Colorado 297-298-305-296=1196 (+44)
19. Tennessee 300-307-307-286=1200 (+48)
20. Michigan State 296-311-294-300=1201 (+49)
21. Pepperdine 306-293-304-301=1204 (+52)
22. Ohio State 303-307-305-296=1211 (+59)
23. Arkansas 303-301-309-301=1214 (+62)
24. Stanford 309-304-307-296=1216 (+64)