PENSACOLA – Redshirt junior Shannon McKew won a 2-hole playoff to win her first career tournament title, while Florida Southern finished 11th in the team standings at the University of West Florida Argonaut Invitational.
McKew went into the final day tied for second with two other golfers, and all of them were trailing Lexie Toth of Rollins by two strokes. Toth fell out of the top spot Tuesday after shooting an 80, giving McKew and Bernadette Little of Lee University (TN) the chance to move into the lead. They did so by each shooting a four-over par 76, and they were joined in a 3-way tie for first by Hally Leadbetter of Rollins, who had a final-round 75. (Nova Southeastern's Aldana Foigel, who had been part of the 3-way tie for second on Monday, dropped into a tie for sixth after shooting a 78 on Tuesday.)
With a playoff needed to decide the individual title, the three remaining combatants made par on the par-4 No. 10 to force a second playoff hole. Moving on to the par-4 No. 11, McKew earned the win by sinking a long putt for birdie (see video below) while Leadbetter made par again to finish second. Little ended up third, with all three playoff contestants finishing one stroke ahead of Florida Tech's Guro Rambjoer and Rollins' Paige Lyle.
McKew's win, which was her third top-five finish of the season, marks the second year in a row a Florida Southern golfer has won the Argonaut Invitational. In 2015, Emily Rymer won the tournament by six strokes, and the Moccasins also brought home the team trophy after edging out Limestone (SC) by one shot.
With the season winding down, Florida Southern is in a battle with a handful of other teams for a spot in the NCAA playoffs, and the Argonaut Invitational gave them one final chance to face many of them. By finishing in 11th place, the 27th-ranked Moccasins were able to defeat Shorter (GA) from the Gulf South Conference and #21 Armstrong State (GA) from the Peach Belt Conference, but they finished one shot behind #26 Limestone from Conference Carolinas. That gives them a split in two meetings with Shorter, and three-out-of-five in head-to-head meetings with Armstrong.
After a scoring change prior to the start of Tuesday's final round, Florida Southern started the day still tied for ninth with Flagler, but falling one shot behind Limestone. The Moccasins were unable to make up that one-shot difference though, with Florida Southern and Limestone each putting up a 316, and Flagler posting a 309. That gave the Mocs a 954 overall, putting them 13 shots ahead of Shorter and 21 ahead of Armstrong State.
The Moccasins were led by McKew's four-over par 76 and a 79 from senior Colleen Panosian. Junior Britta Bernth had an 80 as the Mocs' third counter, and senior Kit Creighton carded an 81. Fifth-year senior Emma Marlatt had an 82, and sophomore Kolby McWilliams, who was playing as an individual, also shot an 82.
Creighton was Florida Southern's #2 golfer in the tournament with a 244, followed by Panosian (246), Bernth (248), Marlatt (249), and McWilliams (249).
Limestone counted scores of 77, 79, 79, and 81, and though Hannah Luckett had the Saints' best score of the day, they got a big boost from Taylor McInnis, who birdied three straight holes at one point en route to her 79. She had eight birdies in the tournament, which was tied for third behind West Florida's Johanna Nevalainen and Flagler's Lara Ardler. Nevalainen and Ardler each had a 73 on Tuesday which were the best scores of the final round, and McInnis had the tournament's best score in round two on Monday with a 72.
Second-ranked Rollins had the best collection of scores though, which is what gave the Tars a 9-shot victory over #23 Lee (TN), and a 14-shot margin over third-place and 9th-ranked West Florida. #6 Nova Southeastern finished fourth, 18 shots behind Rollins, and top-ranked Florida Tech was fifth, 19 shots behind the Tars.
Florida Southern's next tournament will be the 2016 Sunshine State Conference Championships April 17-19 on Key Biscayne.