POOLER, Ga. – Led by a 9th-place showing by senior Emily Rymer and a final-round 76 by freshman Abbey Williams, Florida Southern wrapped up the 2015 season with a ninth-place finish in the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament at Savannah Quarters Country Club.
The 15th-ranked Moccasins went into the final day within 10 shots of third place where they needed to finish in order to advance to the Division II National Finals. The final round could not have started much better than it did either, with their first four golfers all making par on No. 1, and Rymer picking up a birdie. Sophomore Britta Bernth had the most challenging shot on that hole with a long putt from the back of the green that led to a short one for par, and junior Colleen Panosian lined up a putt from almost the same distance with the same outcome. Rymer then hit her approach within three feet of the cup to set up her birdie.
The Moccasins began to slip back though a few holes later and fell out of the race before all of their golfers had made the turn. Rymer, however, remained in the running for an individual bid but was eventually done in by a rough sequence on 9 and 10. The Mocs' lone senior played those two holes at six-over, though she was even on her other 16 holes of the day.
Leading up to No. 9, Rymer had bogeyed just one of her first eight holes and had moved ahead of one other golfer who was fighting for an individual bid to nationals. She had only the one birdie on No. 1, but nearly knocked in a couple of others with a putt that broke just around the cup on 4, and a 40-footer that fell short by a couple of feet on 5. Her overall play was so strong up to that point, it didn't seem to matter much.
On the par-four No. 9, however, Rymer hit her approach into the woods on the right and out of bounds, and then hit her second attempt from the same spot into a bunker on the right front of the green. After coming out of the sand and over the green, Rymer had to settle for an eight, though even that didn't knock her out of contention. But her tee shot on No. 10 also ended up in the trees and led to a double-bogey, and though she played even-par the rest of the way, Rymer was unable to make up the difference between herself and the third individual bid to the National Tournament.
Rymer's final-round 78 gave her a 223 for the tournament and the second top-10 regional finish of her career. She placed eighth as a junior in 2014. It was also Rymer's seventh top-10 finish of the season.
With her 76 on Tuesday, Williams was Florida Southern's #2 golfer in the tournament with a 3-day total of 232. Her final-round score, which included two birdies, was her best of the regional and allowed her to finish in a tie for 30th place. She matched Rymer by playing the final eight holes at even-par and also combined with Rymer to give Florida Southern two of the three eagles that were recorded in the tournament.
Bernth, who had a 79 Tuesday, and Panosian, who had an 82, ended up tied overall with 3-day totals of 237. Kit Creighton also had an 82 in the final round and a 250 overall.
Top-ranked Rollins won the South Region team championship by 16 shots over Lynn, the Tars' first regional title since 2006. The Knights, who were playing with just four golfers, had trailed by 19 after the first round and 12 after the second, but cut the deficit to as few as three strokes at one point Tuesday. They got a 69 from Jenny Ayala, which was the best individual round of the tournament, but had to count an 82. The Knights were also forced to count an 86 in Sunday's opening round of play.
Nova Southeastern was the third team to advance, marking the seventh year in a row that all three teams moving on from the South Region will come from the Sunshine State Conference. The Sharks moved up three spots on the final day, moving ahead of Florida Tech and Saint Leo, which finished fourth and fifth respectively. Third place had belonged to Florida Tech when the day began and the Panthers were still there late in the final round before Nova Southeastern jumped ahead of them as the final groups finished. The Panthers ended up falling just two strokes short of third.
For the second year in a row, two players tied for medalist honors, with Annie Dulman of Rollins and Mailen Domecq Chantry of Nova Southeastern each turning in identical scores all the way through the tournament: 70, 72, and 75 for a total of one-over par 217.
Dulman and Chantry finished one shot ahead of Limestone's Brittany LaPadula, who qualified for the regional as an individual and will go on to the National Finals the same way. The top three golfers not with one of the advancing teams earn spots in the national field, and LaPadula will be joined there by Guro Rambjoer of Florida Tech, and Nicole Ferre of Barry.
Ferre had to win a one-hole playoff against Saint Leo's Clare Connolly to earn her spot, and it was nearly a 3-way playoff before Rambjoer knocked down a putt on 18 to par the final hole of regulation and pull one shot ahead of the other two contenders. That gave her a 220, and Ferre and Connolly a 221. Ferre got the playoff win with a putt for par on 18 after Connolly had to settle for a bogey. Ferre's approach left her only four feet from the cup, and Connolly nearly missed the green, but Ferre kept the door open by missing a putt for birdie. Her second putt was on target though, sending her to the National Finals.
It was the sixth time in the last seven years the final individual slot from the South Region was decided by a playoff.