PENSACOLA – Sophomore Abbey Williams and redshirt junior Shannon McKew went into the South Super Region Tournament as the fifth and sixth individuals selected, but finished it as the two best golfers on that list of individual qualifiers. Williams shot a final-round 76 to finish in a tie for 10th place, and McKew had an 80 to tie for 42nd, though neither Moccasin was able to qualify for the National Tournament.
Williams' total score of 10-over par 226 (78-72-76) was six strokes better than she shot as a freshman in the 2015 super regional in Savannah and it gave Florida Southern a top-10 finisher in the regional tournament for the 14th time in the last 15 years. McKew, who was playing in her first NCAA postseason tournament, had a 3-day total of 238 (80-78-80) and was one of nine golfers in the field of 66 to finish with that score. Two of the other individual qualifiers, Krysta Schaus of Erskine (SC) and Franziska Bremm of West Georgia were among that group, with the remaining two posting final scores of 239 and 245.
Williams came into Wednesday needing to make up two strokes in order to reach one of the three positions that would allow her to advance to the NCAA Division II National Finals as an individual. Her task became more difficult though when two of the other potential qualifiers ahead of her started their final rounds by playing the first three holes at one-under. One of those was Elaine Wood of Montevallo, who had been the closest target, which pushed Williams three strokes behind the cutoff.
That deficit remained at three strokes over the remainder of the front nine, with Wood making the turn one group ahead of Williams at +2 for the round, and Williams turning at +3. By that point in the day's action, Saint Leo, Nova Southeastern and Rollins had all but secured the top three spots in the team standings, thus removing all of their players from consideration for individual advancement. That left about a dozen players still with a realistic chance of moving on as individuals.
The three who eventually claimed them were all members of the same group ahead of Williams on the course. Florida Tech's Felicia Leftinger and West Florida's Paloma Vaccaro were two of them, and they finished in a tie for third place overall at four-over par 220. Leftinger was the first-round leader with a 69 and had a final-round score of 74; Vaccaro had a 67 in the second round, which tied the lowest score ever recorded in the South Region Tournament, and added a 76 to her total on Wednesday.
Wood was the third golfer who advanced to the National Finals after her final-round 74 gave her a 222 (+6) for the tournament. That was four strokes ahead of Williams and two other golfers who were chasing Wood for the final individual qualifying spot.
Nova Southeastern, which is ranked #5 in the country, won the team title by overtaking #7 Saint Leo on the back nine, giving the Sharks their fifth South Region championship. They previously won four in a row from 2008-11. The Sharks had a score of 894, putting them four shots ahead of top-ranked Rollins, which also moved ahead of Saint Leo during the second half of the final round. The Lions in turn were four shots behind the Tars, and nine ahead of 8th-ranked West Florida which finished fourth. It's the ninth year in a row the top three teams in the South Super Regional have been from the Sunshine State Conference.
Nova Southeastern also had the top two golfers in the regional field with Aldana Foigel and Jamie Freedman. They tied for first at two-over par 218 after Foigel out-shot Freedman 74-75 in the final round. That put them two strokes ahead of Leftinger and Vaccaro. With the two teammates then squaring off in a playoff to decide medalist, both Foigel and Freedman made par on No. 18 before Freedman won with another par on the second playoff hole.