PACE, Fla. – With selections for the NCAA Tournament less than a month away, and Florida Southern battling for one of those bids, the Moccasins made a statement in their final tournament of the regular season. With Emily Rymer claiming medalist honors for the first time this year, and Colleen Panosian hitting two huge shots at the end, Florida Southern won the University of West Florida Argonaut Invitational by one shot over Limestone (SC).
The tournament title was the second of the spring for Florida Southern, which started the semester by taking first place in the Tusculum/Kiawah Island Intercollegiate. Even more importantly for the Moccasins this time was the competition they faced this week. Currently ranked #14 in the Golfstat rankings, the Moccasins finished ahead of #17 Limestone, #2 Florida Tech, and #10 West Florida. They were also under steady pressure all throughout the 3-round tournament, and though they led from the outset, the Mocs never had more than a 3-shot lead.
At the end it was Panosian who sunk two birdie putts on her final two holes, providing the Moccasins with just enough to finish one shot ahead of Limestone and three ahead of Florida Tech. The Moccasins had started the day with a 2-shot lead over the Saints and maintained a three-shot lead over the Panthers.
Panosian, a junior from Smyrna, Georgia, was the team leader for Florida Southern on Tuesday, shooting a two-over par 74. That was nearly the round of the day too, with only one other golfer in the 72-player field topping that.
After starting Tuesday in a tie with West Georgia's Lola Uribe Astolfi, Rymer ended up winning by a comfortable margin. The senior from Orlando shot a 76, while Astolfi had an 85, and with no other golfer closer than six strokes already, Rymer cruised through the final round for a 6-stroke victory over Lauren Lamm of West Florida. It was Rymer's first win of the season, and it came after two runner-up finishes and a pair of thirds. It was also the second win of her career. Rymer finished with a total score of 223 (+7), the best for any Moccasin this season in any of the five 3-round tournaments they've played.
Junior Kit Creighton (Buffalo, N.Y.) and sophomore Britta Bernth (Greenville, Mich.) also finished in the top-20, with Creighton tied for 14th and Bernth in 19th place. Creighton had the better score overall with a 236, but Bernth had the better round Tuesday with an 80, and finished with a 238. The Mocs still had to count Creighton's 81, but that was one stroke better than Limestone's fourth counter, yet another factor in Florida Southern's one-stroke victory.
Panosian's 74 allowed her to finish in 25th place with a total score of 244, and freshman Abbey Williams (Marietta, Ga.) was 37th with a 248. Playing as an individual in the tournament, freshman Kolby McWilliams (Tallahassee, Fla.) had a total score of 259 to finish 49th overall and second among the individuals.
With Florida Southern at 930 for the tournament, and Limestone at 931, both schools were just ahead of third-place Florida Tech, which had a 933. The Panthers were able to match the Moccasins in both the second and third rounds, but could never overcome the 3-shot difference after round one. West Georgia was fourth, finishing 10 shots behind Florida Southern, and host West Florida was fifth, 22 shots off the pace.
Florida Southern will now prepare for the 2015 Sunshine State Conference Tournament, which runs April 12-14 at Red Tail Golf Club in Sorrento, Florida.