WINTER HAVEN – While Amanda Gartrell did not have one of her better rounds on Sunday, the freshman from Lakeland turned it around on Monday with her very best. With five birdies for the day, Gartrell shot a career-best two-under par 70, while Abbey Williams had a 71 to propel Florida Southern up four spots in the standings, which moved the Moccasins into second place at the Sunshine State Conference Women's Golf Championships. They now trail first-place Nova Southeastern by four shots going into the final round.
Gartrell didn't seemed to be fazed by her opening round 86 on Sunday, coming out hot in the first group to tee off Monday morning. She birdied the par-4 No. 1, had back-to-back pars on 2 and 3, and birdied the par-5 No. 4 to drop to two-under par. She made the turn with that score intact and got as low as three-under after 11 holes. She finished the round with her fifth birdie of the day, giving her the best score of her young college career.
Gartrell's 70 matched the best individual round any Moccasin has ever had the SSC Championships. Emily Rymer also had a 70 in the first round of the 2015 SSC Championships at RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento. That was also the last time a Moccasin had a 70 in any tournament.
Also breaking par on Monday was Williams, who had just two birdies compared to Gartrell's five, but the junior had only one bogey and 15 pars to shoot the best score of her career too. That gave the Moccasins two golfers with under-par scores in the same round for the first time since the 2011 NCAA South Region Tournament, which they hosted at Eaglebrooke. That year it was Emily Flanigan and M.J. Audette who each shot a 71 in round two.
Florida Southern's team score was its best since a 291 at the 2013 SSC Championships, a round that helped the Moccasins force a playoff where they defeated Nova Southeastern for their last league title. They have a chance to win another now after moving up from sixth place into second by tying their best single round score they've ever recorded in a conference tournament.
Contributing to that score as well were Tori Higgins and Shannon McKew with a 74 and 76 respectively. Higgins had three birdies in the round, which was second on the team Monday. McKew had only one but after making the turn at three-over, she was able to remain there with eight consecutive pars before a bogey on 18. Britta Bernth had a 77 for the Moccasins, the best for any of the non-counters in the tournament Monday, and a score that would have counted for every other team except Nova Southeastern.
The Sharks grabbed the lead from Florida Tech with their own 291, getting 70s from Sophie Madden and Aldana Foigel, a 75 from Janelle Johnson and a 76 from Michelle Ruiz. The Panthers fell into a 3-way tie for fourth with Saint Leo and Barry, with all three teams falling 15 shots off the pace. Rollins was just above that group in third place, trailing Nova Southeastern by nine shots and Florida Southern by five. The Tars had started the day in fifth.
Barry's Charlotte Puts sat atop the individual leaderboard with a one-under par 143 after her 70 in round one and a 73 in round two. That gave her a one-stroke lead over Saint Leo's Marie Coors, who is gunning for her third SSC individual title. The senior was one of four golfers Monday with a 70 after shooting a 74 in round one. Coors birdied four of her final eight holes.
Williams was two strokes off the lead with her total score of one-over par 145, following by Seher Atwal of Rollins and three Nova golfers who were tied for fourth with scores of 147. Higgins was tied for eighth with a 149, McKew was tied for 11th with a 150, Bernth was tied for 19th with a 153, and Gartrell was tied for 27th with a 156.
The final round of the SSC Championships begins Tuesday morning at The Country Club of Winter Haven at 8 a.m.