POOLER, Ga. – Florida Southern lost ground Monday in its quest for a spot in the NCAA Division II National Finals, but senior Emily Rymer did not. The Moccasins slipped from fourth place to eighth place in the second round of the South Region Tournament and are now 10 shots behind the third-place position they need to reach in order advance. Rymer though, shot an even-par 72, which puts her right where she needs to be in order to move on if the Mocs don't make it as a team.
Rollins still leads the team standings, but the top-ranked Tars didn't even have the best score of the day after setting a tournament record in Sunday's opening round. That honor went to 5th-ranked Lynn, which had a 296, and #4 Flagler had a 297 that moved the Saints all the way from ninth place to fourth. Rollins' 303 put the Tars at 11-over for the tournament and 12 shots ahead of Lynn going into the final round.
Third-ranked Florida Tech is now in third place and trailing Rollins by 17 shots. The top three teams in the tournament will advance to next week's National Finals, and the Panthers are only one shot ahead of fourth-place Flagler, two ahead of fifth-place Saint Leo, and four ahead of both Nova Southeastern and West Florida.
The Moccasins began the day two shots out of third but were 10 back by the end of play on Monday. With Barry only 11 shots out of advancement in ninth place, it sets up the type of finish on Tuesday the South Region Tournament has never had. Though Rollins appears to be a lock at the top, Lynn and Florida Tech are far from secure, and any of the other six could still play their way into it.
On Monday, Florida Southern was led by Rymer's 72, while junior Colleen Panosian had a 78, and freshman Abbey Williams had a 79. Sophomore Britta Bernth was their fourth counter with an 83, and junior Kit Creighton had an 84 after a promising start.
Creighton was the first out of the blocks for Florida Southern and put her tee shots straight down the middle on each of the first three holes, a pair of par-4's and one par-5. That allowed her to par two of them after good approach shots too, and she nearly connected on two long putts on 4 and 5. She then made one of those putts on 6 to save par from the edge of the green.
She also saved par on 7 after her second shot landed in the bunker at the right front of the green, where she lifted it over the lip to less than six inches from the cup. Not to be outdone on the same hole, Williams came in right behind her and almost landed her second eagle of the tournament by hitting her approach less than a foot from the cup. That enabled Williams to collect her first birdie of the day.
As the first to make the turn for Florida Southern, Creighton was three-over through 10, while Williams was two-over through 9, and Panosian one-over through 8. With Rymer knocking in a birdie on 9 as the last Moccasin to turn, Florida Southern was still in good shape and only four back of third place at that point in the day. However, the second half of the second round didn't go as well, and the Mocs eventually drifted down to ninth.
Just when it looked like that's where they'd finish though, Bernth and Rymer lifted them up a spot with a strong finish that kept the Moccasins within striking distance going into the final round. Bernth, who was seven-over after seven holes, rebounded in a big way. Even bogeys on 11 and 16 featured a pair of tough shots that were converted, one of them after the ball rolled off the edge of the green and stopped precariously short of the lip on a right-side bunker.
Fresh off her save on 16, Bernth birdied the par-5 No. 17 by landing her first two shots dead center of the fairway. Her third landed on the back of the green and gave her a chance to sink the putt and get the Mocs one shot closer. She finished her round with a par on 18 after another impressive drive.
Rymer also birdied 17 and parred 18 and played the back nine at one-under. She had a total of three birdies in the round, including two on par-fives, and that helped her move from 10th-place to seventh with a 2-day total of one-over par 145. Rymer trails tournament co-leaders Annie Dulman of Rollins and Mailen Domecq Chantry of Nova Southeastern by only three strokes. Both of those golfers had matching scores of 70 and 72 in the first two rounds.
Two Lynn golfers, Samantha Barber and Jessica Bradley are tied for third with scores of one-under par 143. Bradley's 70 was the best of the second round. Florida Tech's Guro Rambjoer and individual qualifier Brittany LaPadula of Limestone are also ahead of Rymer at even-par 144.
The top three golfers who are not with one of the three advancing teams will also qualify for the National Finals, and going into Tuesday's final round that would be Chantry, LaPadula and Rymer. Three other golfers are within three shots of Rymer and that coveted third position, including Saint Leo's Clare Connolly at 146, and Barry's Nicole Ferre at 147.
The final round gets underway Tuesday morning at 8:30, with Florida Southern among the first wave of teams going off from 8:50 to 9:30. Rymer and Ferre, who were the top two golfers in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament, will play in the same group at 9:30.