Surprising Tigers Finish 6th at NCAA Golf

Victoria Trapani putts for the Tigers.

The Auburn women's golf team continued its rally as the Tigers finished in sixth place at the NCAA Championship tournament.

Athens, Ga.--On the final day of competition as almost every team struggled with windy conditions, Auburn moved up three spots to finish in sixth place on Friday at the NCAA Women's Golf Championship.

That was quite a climb for the Tigers, who found themselves in last place in the 24-team event after the first day of competition on Tuesday.

It was also an unexpected finish for a group that had struggled much of the season, but rallied for Auburn's best finish at the national tournament since a third place showing in 2005 at Sunriver in Bend, Ore.

It was the first Top 10 national finish for the Tigers since taking ninth place in 2007 at the LPGA International Course in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"We didn't really talk about it, but we all knew what we had to do to come back," said sophomore Victoria Trapani, who added it was important to her and her teammates to play well for their coach, Kim Evans, who is undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.

Trapani said that looking at the big picture of what Evans and her mother are going through, a poor opening day round at the nationals was something that she and her teammates decided wasn't going to get them down. (Trapani's mother is also underdoing treatment for cancer.) "There are more important things to worry about than a bad round of golf," Trapani said.

On Friday the sophomore and junior Marta Sanz did the best job on the team of coping with very windy conditions and shot rounds of two-over-par 74 on the University of Georgia Course.

Marta Sanz was Auburn's top performer at the tournament finishing in a tie for 10th place individually at two-over-par 290.

"We knew it was going to be a challenging day when we got out of the van and were on the practice range," Trapani said. "When we hit the ball sand was blowing up into our faces."

Senior Carlie Yadloczky shot a 75 on Friday. The highest score of day four the Tigers counted was a 77 from freshman Jamie Yun, who finished her round with 11 pars, one birdie and six bogeys.

Junior Diana Fernandez ran into early trouble on Friday. Opening on hole No. 10 she double-bogeyed. After two mores bogeys with a birdie in between, she took an eight on the par three 16th to ruin her round. She finished with an 80.

Evans was able to fly to Athens on Wednesday to be with the team, but had to return home to rest on Thursday. Trapani said the players understood the need for their coach to conserve her energy for the cancer treatments.

Coach Kim Evans is shown watching Trapani putt in practice on Wednesday.

In the absence of Evans, student assistant coach Danielle Downey led the Tigers at the competition held on the University of Georgia Course. "Danielle did an amazing job coaching us," said Trapani, who finished in a tie for 29th individually at seven-over-par 295. "She did a great job handling a role she was not expecting to be in."

Yadloczky shot a four-day total of eight-over-part 296, Fernandez finished at 305 and Yun shot a 318.

The Tigers came into the tournament ranked 38th nationally. Of the seven SEC teams in the field four were ranked in the Top 10 and only Mississippi State at 40th had a lower ranking. "Having the lowest score of any SEC team in the most important tournament of the year is something we are proud of," Trapani said.

Evans said she is excited for her players. "This team has been through more than any team in the nation, more than they deserved," she said on Friday night. "A lot has been said that they played for me, that they did it under pressure, but the bottom line is that this is a great team with so much talent. They just went out and played their hearts out this week and I could not be more proud of them."

With the sixth showing finish the Tigers now have eight Top 10 finished at the nationals, all with Evans as the head coach.

"We really exceeded our expectations I think," said Sanz. "We came here with no expectations really. We were just happy to make it here and we just wanted to play our best.

"To finish where we are is unbelievable for everything that had happened during the season and for Coach and for everyone," the junior added. "We miss her very much with her energy out on the course, but we know that she has to take care of herself. What is happening to her has really motivated us to play well and I think we showed that we played for, and that's all that counts."

Southern Cal led the NCAA Championship event from start to finish and did so in dominating fashion. The Trojans showed why they were ranked No. 1 as they finished at an NCAA record 19-under-par 1133, 21 shots ahead of runnerup Duke (1154). Purdue was third at 1173 and was followed by UCLA (1174), Arizona State (1181), Auburn (1183), Alabama (1189) and Arizona (1190).

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