KEY BISCAYNE – After finishing as the Sunshine State Conference runner-up in 2014 and 2015, top-ranked Rollins College overcame a 3-shot deficit going into the final round to win its first SSC championship since 2009. The Tars finished four shots ahead of #5 Nova Southeastern, and 10 ahead of third-place #9 Saint Leo, while #27 Florida Southern placed seventh.
A different team held the lead at the end of each day of the 3-round tournament, with Florida Tech in first after Sunday's first round and Barry in that position when the second round was completed on Monday. It's the second year in a row that's happened at the SSC Women's Golf Championships, and last year it was Rollins with a share of the second-round lead, and Barry that overtook the Tars on the final day. With those teams reversing their roles this year, it means the SSC has seen five different teams win the title in the last five years: Nova Southeastern, Florida Southern, Lynn, Barry, and now Rollins.
In addition to the three different daily leaders, the standings also saw three other teams finish different days in second place. Florida Southern and Saint Leo were tied for that position Sunday; Saint Leo was again tied for second on Monday; and Nova Southeastern finished there on Tuesday.
Rollins did not even have the best team score on Tuesday, with Nova Southeastern out-shooting the Tars 303-307. Oddly enough, that 303 by the Sharks was enough to wipe out the 11-shot deficit they had faced when Barry had the lead at the start of the day, but it wasn't enough to overcome Rollins. The challenging course at Crandon Park, which rates as the third most difficult in the country among municipal golf courses, took its toll on all of the teams, with the Tars' winning score of 935 (+71) the second highest in tournament history. Only Nova Southeastern's +81 at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton in 2012 was higher. The SSC first conducted a women's championship in 1999.
Following Rollins, Nova Southeastern and Saint Leo in the top three positions were #7 Lynn in fourth place, #3 Barry in fifth, and #2 Florida Tech in sixth. Florida Southern was seventh, and those four teams were separated by nine shots. Tampa and Eckerd finished eighth and ninth respectively.
Florida Southern was led by Britta Bernth on the final day with the junior shooting a 77. She also had a 77 in round one two days earlier, and had the Mocs' best score for the tournament with a 239 (+23). Bernth finished in 16th place, and in both the first and third rounds did not have any hole worse than a bogey. She finished 16 spots higher than she did at the 2015 SSC Championships.
Sophomore Abbey Williams had a 79 on Tuesday to finish in a tie for 17th place with a 240 (+24) overall. Williams was tied with Bernth for the team's best score after making the turn, but went five-over for the final nine holes (the front nine at Crandon Park). Williams' 240 matched her score from the SSC Tournament last year, but under more difficult conditions it allowed her to finish 15 spots higher this year.
Senior Kit Creighton was one stroke behind Williams with an 80 in the final round, and just one stroke behind her too for the tournament with a 241. She tied for 21st overall and really had only one bad hole on Tuesday. Redshirt junior Shannon McKew had an 82 and finished in a tie for 28th with an overall score of 247, and senior Colleen Panosian shot an 86, and her total of 253 put her in a tie for 33rd.
The Buccaneers of Barry, who held a 3-shot lead going into the day after rounds of 318 and 307, plummeted down the standings with a 332 on Tuesday. Barry's best golfer from Tilda Larsson, who shot a 77, but the Bucs' next best score was an 82, and they also had to count an 84 and an 89.
Rollins was led by Lexie Toth's even-par 72, and the remaining counters had scores of 77, 79, and 79. Toth became the first golfer at the 2016 SSC Championships to make par in her round, though Saint Leo's Marie Coors later finished her final round with a one-under 71.
Coors easily won medalist honors with a 3-day total of 223 (76-76-71), putting her six strokes ahead of teammate Vilde Eriksen, and seven ahead of Toth and Annie Dulman from Rollins. That was the largest individual winning margin since 2004 when Rollins' Charlotte Campbell defeated her teammate, Freddie Seeholzer, by 10 strokes. It also gave Coors her second individual SSC title after she won the tournament two years. The junior from Germany will now have a chance to match former Nova Southeastern golfer Sandra Changkija as a 3-time champion next year.
Florida Southern will now await the NCAA postseason selections which will be announced next Monday, April 25.