W. Golf

Rymer's Bid For NCAA Division II National Finals Falls Short in a Playoff

Emily Rymer lines up a shot on No. 11, which she eventually birdied.Emily Rymer lines up a shot on No. 11, which she eventually birdied.

DADE CITY – Finished with her final round of the regional tournament, Emily Rymer could only sit, wait, and hope for the best. Rymer’s 76 on Tuesday at the NCAA Division II South Super Regional was enough to keep her in the running for an individual bid to the D-II National Finals, but Florida Tech’s Johanna Larsson snatched the final spot away from her in a 1-hole playoff.

It was a day of close calls for Rymer, who reached the regional tournament as an individual qualifier, and as such had only one path to the Division II National Finals. She would have to finish among the top three golfers in the field who were not with one of three advancing teams, which by the end of the day were Lynn (881), Barry (896), and Rollins (901). Florida Tech, which had been in third place going into the final round, ended up fourth, losing its 1-stroke lead over Rollins and finishing five behind the Tars. That pushed Larsson into the playoff with Rymer, after Larsson shot a 73 on Tuesday, and was two-under on the back nine.

As Florida Tech’s final golfer to finish, Larsson nearly earned the spot at the end of her round on No. 18 but missed an 8-foot putt for birdie. The par-four 18th hole also served as the site for the playoff, and faced with a much longer putt for par, Larsson connected to move on to nationals.

Both golfers put their tee shot in the sand, Larsson to the right of the fairway and Rymer to the left. Larsson hit a straight-on shot after that just short of the green, while Rymer knocked hers over the water and over more sand right onto the green. Once Larsson joined her there, the freshman from Lidkoping, Sweden knocked down a 25-footer for par. Rymer, who had left her first long-distance putt on the playoff hole short, was approximately 20 feet away and nearly matched Larsson, but the ball went just past the edge of the cup.

It marked the third year in a row the final individual spot from the South Super Region Tournament was decided in a playoff.

Rymer’s wait after completing her round at 1:00 was an agonizing three hours, and it came after she overcame a very difficult start. The junior from Orlando played the first five holes at four-over before she played even-par golf the rest of the day. Along the way she hit some big shots, but none may have been bigger than what she did on the par-five No. 11.

When Rymer made the turn, she’d actually fallen out of the third individual spot for nationals, and she then fell just short of a birdie on No. 10 by inches. Undaunted, Rymer stepped up on 11, avoided a bunker at the front of the green on her second shot, and chipped up from there. She then rolled her first putt over a short hump in the green and down into the cup for a game-changing birdie.

It was part of an interesting round for Rymer, who hit several impressive shots out of the sand to put herself in position to either save par or go for a birdie. In short, every time it appeared Rymer hit a roadblock, she calmly moved it aside. And when she did miss, it wasn’t by much. She was inches away from birdies on 9 and 10, and a putt for par on 18 stopped right on the lip of the cup.

Rymer was among the first to tee off Tuesday morning, and as such, finished her round more than an hour ahead of many of the other contenders. Her 76 kept her in the chase, but didn’t give her much breathing room. In fact, as Rymer sat in the scorer’s tent signing her scorecard, her 3-round total of eight-over par was only one stroke better than a pair of Florida Tech golfers who were also challenging for those spots. With Florida Tech still on the front nine, it meant an even longer wait to see how things would develop.

The reason those Florida Tech golfers became such a focus was because the Panthers had lost control of third place in the team standings earlier in the morning, where they’d been one shot ahead of Rollins. It had the dual effect of taking any Rollins golfers out of the equation for individual bids too, since the Tars would be advancing as a team instead. With one of those players, Annie Dulman, already ahead of Rymer, and Kayla Sciupider nipping at her heels, it removed two potential competitors from the mix.

In addition to monitoring what Rollins and Florida Tech were doing, Rymer and her followers were also keeping an eye on Jenna Birch from Armstrong Atlantic. The Pirates had long ago been eliminated from contention as a team, but Birch was very much alive for one of the coveted individual slots. She’d already advanced to the National Finals as an individual in 2012, but for the second year in a row she fell one stroke short of possibly doing it again. Going into her final hole of the tournament, Birch was deadlocked with Rymer at +8, but she bogeyed No. 18 to fall one stroke off the score she needed to force a playoff.

By that point, Rollins had opened up a 7-shot lead over Florida Tech for third place in the team standings, with the Tars playing their final three holes. Their advantage never fell below five, but it still created a tense situation for Rymer. It left two of their players, Felicia Leftinger and Larsson, in line for the final individual spot Rymer currently held.

Leftinger finished her round first, and despite a 72 that included just one bogey, she remained one shot behind Rymer for the tournament. Larsson was able to catch Rymer though with a birdie on 16, and with pars on her final two holes, created the playoff scenario.

Also advancing to the National Finals as individuals are Marie Coors from Saint Leo, and Daisy-May Kenney from West Florida. Coors tied Ellen Chambers of Lynn for medalist honors, with each golfer turning in a 3-day total of two-over par 218. Chambers had a 77 in the final round while Coors erased a 6-stroke deficit with a 71. Kenny was third overall with a 219 (+3).

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