SORRENTO – Emily Rymer hit one of the most memorable shots anyone has ever made at the Sunshine State Conference Championships, and for the second year in a row broke the previous scoring record coming into the tournament. Unfortunately for Rymer, her 3-day total of even-par 216 put her one shot behind Nicole Ferre of Barry, whose final-round 69 led the Buccaneers to a record-setting day of their own and the 2015 SSC title. Florida Southern finished in fifth place after edging Saint Leo by one shot in the table.
Last year, Rymer had a four-over par 220, but was two shots behind Saint Leo's Marie Coors. This year she was one back of Ferre, who became the first golfer in the 17-year history of the SSC Women's Golf Tournament to break par with a one-under 215. Ferre posted scores of 76, 70, and 69 as she also became only the second Barry golfer to win the individual title, joining RemiJin Camping in 2005.
Rymer's name will go into the record book too for the shot she made on the par-three No. 4, her 13th hole of the day. The senior from Orlando became just the third golfer to ever make a hole-in-one during the SSC Tournament, hitting her tee shot a foot in front of the pin and watching it take a small bounce directly into the cup. She joins Cecilia Kleinert of Rollins, who did it in 2011, and Johanna Larsson of Florida Tech, who did it last year, on that short list of ace golfers.
Prior to Tuesday, the only Moccasin to ever make a hole-in-one during a college tournament was Sarah Coleson, who did so at the 2004 NCAA South Region Tournament at Stonebrook Country Club in Pace, Florida. Rymer does have company of a sort, however. Current junior teammate Kit Creighton (Buffalo, N.Y.) made one last December while playing in the Dixie Amateur.
The ace by Rymer was a big shot too. It came after she had surrendered a 4-stroke lead over Ferre during the first nine holes Tuesday (playing the back nine first) and had fallen behind by two with seven to play. She made up one of those shots on the par-four No. 3 after Ferre's tee shot landed on the cart path sitting behind an overhanging tree branch. While Ferre had to settle for a bogey, Rymer made par and had the deficit down to one. When she stepped to the tee box on the next hole, Rymer's shot brought cheers from the entire crowd watching and put her back in front, this time by a single stroke.
The next par-three came up at No. 6, and both Rymer and Ferre came close to another hole-in-one, with Ferre's shot the nearer of the two. She was able to sink her putt for birdie and pulled even with Rymer once more. Ferre then took the lead on No. 8 with a par after Rymer came within 2 inches of saving par herself. Rymer had to chip out of the bunker to the right of the hole and put that shot to the far side of the green, but still in good position. Her long putt for par though stopped just short, forcing her to settle for a bogey.
Both players were even on the final hole, giving the SSC individual title to Ferre, whose 69 on Tuesday equaled the third best single round in tournament history. Rymer had a 74 in the final round, which was the Moccasins' best score of the day.
Rymer's finish marks the third year in a row the Moccasins have had the SSC runner-up. In 2013, Barbora Vejlupkova was tied for that position with Lynn's Jessica Bradley, and Rymer was second in 2014. Rymer is also only the second Moccasin to have two top-two finishes at the SSC Tournament in her career, joining Rachel Bell, who won in 2001 and was runner-up in 2002.
Bradley was third at this year's SSC Tournament, finishing five strokes behind Ferre and four behind Rymer.
Creighton was Florida Southern's #2 golfer in the tournament with a total score of 233 (78-75-80) that had her tied for 24th. She too hit one of the more impressive shots of the day when she came out of the rough to the right of the green, nearly in the water, and put the ball within striking distance of the hole.
Junior Colleen Panosian (Smyrna, Ga.) was the Moccasins' #3 golfer with a 238, while sophomore Britta Bernth (Greenville, Mich.) and freshman Abbey Williams (Marietta, Ga.) tied for 32nd with scores of 240. Bernth and Williams were also two of the Moccasin counters Tuesday with a 77 and 79 respectively, with Creighton's 80 their fourth score factored into the team total of 310.
Barry shot a blistering 286 in the final round to become the first team to ever break par in one round at the conference finals. The Buccaneers not only got a 69 from Ferre, they also got a pair of 72's from Nancy Vergara and Maria Paola Fiorio, and a 73 from Francesca Perini. Those four golfers combined for 13 birdies in the final round and lifted Barry all the way from sixth place on the final day, something never before done.
Even with their 897, which tied the second lowest total score at the SSC Tournament, the Buccaneers still had to hold on for their title. It came down to the final hole before they'd secured a 1-stroke victory over both Rollins and Lynn. Nova Southeastern was only two shots behind the Bucs in fourth place, making it the closest SSC Championship Tournament ever held.
Florida Southern will now await word on a bid to the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament, with that announcement being made on Monday, April 27. Nine teams will be selected, and Florida Southern came into the SSC Tournament ranked #9 in the region. The Moccasins likely did enough to earn a spot after finishing ahead of both Saint Leo and Florida Tech, two teams that were ahead of them in the regional rankings.