BOCA RATON, FL – For the second day in a row, all four Florida Southern counters were in the 70s as the Moccasins wrapped up the 2018 Sunshine State Conference Women's Golf Championships with a third-round 307 that kept them in seventh place in the final standings.
The Moccasins, who are No. 6 in the most recent Golfstat rankings, were unable to gain ground on any of the teams in front of them but they did widen their margin over all four teams behind them. They finished 20 shots ahead of eighth-place Tampa after they were tied with the Spartans at the end of round one. This is the first year all 11 teams in the SSC have been eligible for the tournament, with Palm Beach Atlantic, Embry-Riddle, and Eckerd taking the final three positions.
Nova Southeastern won the SSC title with a five-shot margin over runner-up Barry, leading from start to finish for their eighth win of the season. The top-ranked Sharks set a new tournament scoring record with an 881 (+17), and the Buccaneers' 886 is the second lowest score in the 20-year history of the tournament. Third-place Lynn was 11 shots off the pace, and the Knights' 892 comes in at fourth best all-time. Rollins, Florida Tech, and Saint Leo were fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively, with the Lions finishing 13 shots ahead of seventh-place Florida Southern.
Florida Southern was led on Tuesday and overall by sophomore Amanda Gartrell, who shot a three-over-par 75 to finish tied for eighth place in the individual standings. She had three birdies for the second day in a row and was +1 before the final four holes. Her total score of 226 (+10) was a nine-shot improvement over her freshman score and her position in the standings was 22 spots higher.
The Mocs also got counting scores on Tuesday from freshmen Ashley Zagers and Shelby Lewis, who each shot a 77, and junior Tori Higgins, who shot a 78. Senior Abbey Williams turned in an 83 as the Mocs' non-counter but was their best golfer on the back nine with a 38 (+2).
Zagers, who had the Mocs' best score in round one and was number two in the second round, tied for second on the team Tuesday with Lewis. She parred or birdied a team-high 15 holes in the round. That gave Zagers a 229 (+13) overall as the only Moccasin to shoot in the 70s in all three rounds. She tied for 21st place, which was the highest finish for a Moccasin freshman since 2009 when M.J. Audette was 14th.
Higgins' 78 gave her a 235 (+19) and put her 34th. Lewis was 40th with a 240 (+24), and Williams was 44th with a 243 (+27).
Winning the individual title was senior Michelle Ruiz of Nova Southeastern with a tournament-record six-under-par 210 (68-71-71). That put her five strokes ahead of Barry's Tilda Larsson, whose one-under-par 215 (75-73-67) tied the previous scoring record set by Barry's Nicole Ferre in 2015. Larsson shot a 67 on Tuesday that was only one off the single-round scoring record. Lynn's Krissy Ortiz and Jenny Ayala were third and fourth with scores of 220 and 222, and two golfers tied for fifth with scores of 223.
Florida Southern will now await word on a likely at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, with that announcement scheduled for Monday, April 30. Twelve teams will earn spots in the South Super Regional, which is May 7-9 at Germantown Country Club in Germantown, Tennessee. The champions from the SSC (Nova Southeastern), Conference Carolinas (Limestone), Gulf South Conference (to be determined), Peach Belt Conference (Flagler) and South Atlantic Conference (Wingate) receive automatic bids with the remaining seven slots filled by at-large teams. Florida Southern was ranked No. 4 in the most recent NCAA South Region poll behind Nova Southeastern, Saint Leo, and Barry.