BOCA RATON, FL – Florida Southern posted the best score for any team on day two of the 2018 Sunshine State Conference Women's Golf Championships, and Amanda Gartrell posted the best score for any Moccasin at any SSC championship tournament. Behind her three-under-par 69, Florida Southern had a 296 to remain in seventh place as a team while drawing while significantly closing the gap on the teams in front of them.
Tied with Tampa for seventh place when the round began, the 6th-ranked Moccasins out-shot the Spartans by 19 strokes and nearly caught one of the three teams that were in spots directly ahead of them. While they were not able to move any higher, the Mocs closed the gap to the point that all three are now within striking distance in Tuesday's final round. With a total team score of 620 (+44), Florida Southern is only six shots out of fourth where Rollins and Florida Tech are tied at 614 (+38). Sixth-place Saint Leo is just two shots ahead of the Moccasins.
The top three teams are still Nova Southeastern, Barry and Lynn, with the top-ranked Sharks losing one shot off their lead over 5th-ranked Barry. Both teams joined Florida Southern in breaking the 300 barrier on Tuesday after Nova Southeastern had been the only team to do that on Sunday. Nova is now at +19, with Barry at +21, and 10th-ranked Lynn at +27.
Gartrell's 69 is the best score a Moccasin golfer has ever had in the Sunshine State Conference Championships. The previous Florida Southern low was turned in by Emily Rymer, who had a two-under-par 70 in the 2015 tournament. It was Gartrell's second 69 of the season following her second round score from the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational on March 5. The sophomore from Lakeland roared up the individual standings Monday after an opening-round 82 on Sunday, climbing 27 spots into a tie for seventh at the end of the day with a 151 (+7). The only other golfers to break par were individual leader Michelle Ruiz from Nova Southeastern, and Amanda Jakobsson from Saint Leo, who each shot a 71.
All three of Gartrell's birdies on Tuesday came over the final seven holes, but she also had an eagle on the par-5 No. 5. It was the first eagle in the tournament though Ruiz added one later in the day for Nova Southeastern when she dropped one in on the par-4 No. 10. No one could match Gartrell's score for the day, however, as she became just the eighth golfer in the tournament's 20-year history to shoot in the 60s. Ruiz had been the seventh on Sunday with a 68.
All three of Florida Southern's other counters were in the 70s too, with Ashley Zagers shooting a 74, Tori Higgins shooting a 75, and Abbey Williams shooting a 78. Shelby Lewis was the Mocs' non-counter with an 80, and all five Moccasins improved their scores by at least three strokes.
Zagers had another impressive round for the Mocs after turning in their best score on Sunday. This time her two-over-par 74 included birdies on 8, 13, and 14, and that moved her up into a tie for 11th with an overall score of 152 (+8). Only four golfers in the tournament have more birdies through two rounds than Zagers, with Ruiz leading the way with seven.
Higgins moved up to a tie for 28th by chopping seven strokes off her score from round one. Her two-round total stands at 157 (+13). Williams, who matched Gartrell and Higgins with three birdies in round two, is now tied for 37th with a 160 (+16). The only senior in the Mocs' lineup overcame a tough start that saw her play the final 12 holes Monday at +1. Lewis is tied for 41st with a 163 (+19).
Ruiz, who started the day with a five-shot lead over Barry's Josefina Foa Torres and Lynn's Matilda Wahren, will take a nine-shot lead into Tuesday's final round. Torres is still tied for second, but now with teammate Tilda Larsson instead of Wahren, who fell to fourth.
The largest winning margin in SSC Championship history is 10 shots by Charlotte Campbell of Rollins in 2004, and at five-under-par, Ruiz is four shots ahead of the current tournament scoring record set by Barry's Nicole Ferre in 2015.
The final round of the SSC Championship gets underway Tuesday at 7:30 a.m., with the Mocs' first tee time at 8:10.