FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The quest for a national title by the Vanderbilt women’s golf team ended Monday when the Commodores did not advance to match play at the NCAA Championships.
The Vanderbilt contingent struggled with the combination of demanding conditions and slick greens at Blessings Golf Club for the third consecutive round, finishing with a 19-over-par total of 311.
The Commodores, who entered the national championships off an NCAA Regional title in Opelika, Alabama, ended the tournament in 23rd place, with a three-day total of 946.
While head coach Greg Allen acknowledged the Commodores’ disappointment performance in Arkansas, he was pleased with the team’s overall season that featured six tournament victories, the most in program history.
“We came in the NCAAs with high expectations but it really was a tough week for us,” Allen said. “I knew this course was really difficult but I thought we would’ve handled it better. We just never got comfortable, especially on the greens. We had a lot of birdie looks today but not many dropped.
“Although we’re disappointed, I know this was a really good learning experience for our girls and one that will help us down the road. We took a huge step forward for our program this year and I’m excited about our future.”
The nationally ranked Commodores are expected to return four of the five participants from this year’s squad. The 2019-20 squad will return all but Courtney Zeng, who provided solid leadership and scoring ability in her senior campaign.
Vanderbilt’s team struggles mirrored the individual performances from the five participants. None of the Commodores were in contention for stroke-play honors just two weeks after freshman Auston Kim and sophomore Morgan Baxendale finished first and third, respectively, at the NCAA Auburn Regional.
On Monday, junior Abbey Carlson and sophomore Louise Yu paced the Commodores with 3-over-par 76. The rounds by Carlson and Yu marked the lowest posted by a Commodore during the tournament.
Starting on the back nine, Carlson birdied No. 10, No. 12 and No. 15 to reach two-under par though six holes, but she could not register another birdie for the rest of the round.
Yu was consistent for much of the round but couldn’t make enough birdies to mount a charge. Her only birdie came on the par-3 third hole.
Baxendale played her final nine holes at even-par, but started slowly in a round of 6-over-par 79.
Kim and Zeng both finished with 7-over-par rounds of 80 on Monday.
Blessings Golf Club, Fayetteville, Ark.
Results from Third Round (final round of stroke play)
Arkansas 900 (302-296-302). Wake Forest 902 (309-299-294). Arizona 904 (304-294-306). Stanford 906 (304-300-302). Illinois 917 (320-296-301). Florida 918 (320-294-303). Florida State 924 (321-298-305). Arizona State 926 (310-302-314). Ole Miss 926 (314-297-315). Virginia 926 (314-307-305). Kent State 930 (325-308-297). Washington 937 (311-311-315). San Jose State 938 (324-302-312). UCLA 941 (315-308-318). UCF 945 (321-309-316). Vanderbilt 946 (319-316-311). Tennessee 950 (328-311-311).
Following teams have not finished third round:
Duke 586 (305-281). Southern California 595 (306-289). Texas 596 (302-294). Purdue 606 (312-294). Northwestern 607 (313-294). Auburn 608 (313-295).
Vanderbilt Individual Results
T-79. Auston Kim 236 (78-78-80)
T-79. Morgan Baxendale 236 (77-80-79)
T-90. Abbey Carlson 238 (81-81-76)
T-93. Louise Yu 239 (83-80-76)
T-105. Courtney Zeng 242 (84-78-81)