LAKELAND – Conditions at Grasslands Golf and Country Club on Tuesday were less than ideal for anyone, but the Rollins College Tars found a way to cut through the wind, finish ahead of the rain, and run away from the rest of the field to claim their sixth Lady Moc Classic Championship. Host Florida Southern fell to 12th, with the Moccasins again led by senior Emily Rymer and freshman Abbey Williams.
The wind created a challenge on Monday, but Tuesday it was up to a steady 25 miles per hour with gusts much higher than that. Individual scores in the mid to upper 70's put those golfers among the leaders, with 82.4 the average score, and only seven of the 96 golfers who finished play shooting 75 or better. Rollins had two of those with Lexie Toth carding a 74 and Madison Lellyo bringing in a 75. The Tars' other two counters had 77's, giving them a team score of 303. That was actually only one stroke worse than their opening round score, and just three off round two even with the extra wind.
The six wins in the Lady Moc Classic are the most of any team, but it was the Tars' first title in Lakeland since 2009 when they edged Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern by two strokes.
Rollins had started the day with a scant 3-stroke lead over West Florida, but the Argonauts dropped into sixth place after a 324 that saw only one of their players break 82. Meanwhile, Northwood (FL) moved up from fourth place to second with a final-round 310 that featured three scores in the 70's and an 80 from the Seahawks' fourth counter. They still finished 18 shots behind Rollins, but it was enough to put them two shots ahead of Lynn and Seminole State (FL). The Knights had three scores in the 70's too but had to count an 84.
Northwood's runner-up finish marked only the second time in the last 10 years that schools from the Sunshine State Conference did not hold the top two spots in the tournament. The Seahawks largely rode the play of freshman Elsa Westin, who won her second tournament in as many weeks. Last week it was the Tusculum College/Kiawah Island Intercollegiate, and this week it was the Lady Moc Classic where she won on a scorecard tie-breaker.
Westin and Florida Tech's Johanna Larsson each had a 3-round total of 221 (+5), with Westin shooting a 74 on Tuesday and Larsson a 73. The first tie-breaker for the medalist trophy was their score on the par-five 18th hole Tuesday where both of them had a five. The second tie-breaker was the total from 16 through 18, where Westin had a 14, and Larsson had a 15. It was the first time such a tie-breaker was used at the Lady Moc Classic with two previous ties decided with a 1-hole playoff. Westin and Larsson were one stroke ahead of Lellyo from Rollins, who was third with a 222 (+6).
Westin was so good in Tuesday's windy conditions she had a pair of eagles, making her the first golfer in the 17-year history of the tournament to have two in one round. Both came on par-fives (No. 2 and No. 4). Larsson, meanwhile, was the tournament leader in birdies with 11.
Florida Southern had a final-round score of 332, with all five of its golfers shooting in the 80's. Rymer (Orlando, Fla.) and Williams (Marietta, Ga.) each had an 81, and improbably had identical scores all throughout the tournament. With matching scores of 74 in the first round and 76 in the second, they finished tied for 13th with a total of 231.
Junior Kit Creighton (Buffalo, N.Y.) carded an 83 Tuesday and finished with a 240 that put her in a tie for 44th place. Redshirt junior Emma Marlatt (Chapel Hill, N.C.) shot an 87 and had a total score of 250, and freshman Kolby McWilliams (Tallahassee, Fla.) had an 88 in round three and 260 overall.
The Florida Southern "B" team was led by redshirt sophomore Shannon McKew (Cockeysville, Md.) in the final round where she shot an 82. Sophomore Britta Bernth (Greenville, Mich.) was just behind her with an 83 that allowed her to tie junior Colleen Panosian (Smyrna, Ga.) for the top spot overall for the "B" team in the tournament. Bernth and Panosian each had 3-round totals of 243, while McKew had a 251. Junior Emily Tofaute (Louisville, Ky.) finished with a 253.
Florida Southern's next tournament will be March 2 and 3 in Pooler, Georgia at the Armstrong Pirate Invitational.