LAKE CHARLES, La. The 2009 Southland Conference Women's Golf Championship came down to the final hole on Wednesday with the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's golf team down two shots to UTSA as the final threesome approached the 18th hole. With the crown the Islanders advance to the NCAA Regionals May 7-9 at one of three locations.
With her team down a stroke, Islander junior Courtney Peeler sank a birdie on the par-5, 483-yard final hole. Meanwhile, UTSA's Allie Jordan, who entered the final hole at 1-under par on the day and would win the individual title, double bogeyed the final hole. It was only Jordan's second double-bogey of the tournament with the other coming on the same hole to end round two. The three-shot swing on the final hole handed the Islanders their first Southland Conference title in golf and the athletic department's sixth SLC team title overall.
With the birdie by Peeler, A&M-Corpus Christi shot its best round of the season finishing the 56-hole event with a 300 as the Islanders begun the day one shot back. For the tournament, A&M-Corpus Christi fired a 48-over par 912 (306-304-300).
"A lot of good things had to happen for us to win this tournament," said Islander head coach Carol Blackmar. "Everyone contributed. We down by about four shots heading into the final three holes as a team and I think we ended up shooting 3- or 4-under par as a team.
"Courtney struggled and was six over after three holes but played under par of the rest of the way. All, tournament the girls did a good job of keeping their composure."
UTSA, which entered the final round tied for second with the Islanders, was second with a 301 and finished at 913 (309-303-301). McNeese State, which led by a stroke entering the final round with a 611, placed third with a 54-over par 918 (305-306-307), while Texas State was fourth at 55-over par with a 919 (313-302-304). Central Arkansas had the low round of the tournament as a team with a 296 over the final 18 holes setting a league record for lowest round in the tournament, but struggled in the first two rounds to finish fifth nine shots off the lead.
Ashley Watkins, who was ninth as an individual a season ago, was 1-under par for the final 18 holes to finish in a tie for second as an individual at 8-over for three rounds with a 224 (76-77-71). Peeler, who began the final round six over before righting the ship, finished in a tie for sixth at 10-over the tournament with 226 (76-74-76). Melissa Fahey was 19th for A&M-Corpus Christi at 17-over with a 233 (79-76-78). Senior Ashley Olynick and freshman Ryann White tied for 23rd at 235. Olynick opened with a 77 before back-to-back rounds of 79. White had an 83 in her first run through the SLC tournament but responded with a 77 and 75 in her final two rounds. Her final round 75 was crucial on the final day and matched the lowest of her brief career as an Islander.
UTSA's Jordan finished as the medalist with a 6-over 222 (73-76-73). McNeese's Lacy McKinley tied with Watkins for second overall at 224. Sam Houston State's Wendy Joyner and Linda Persson of Lamar tied for fourth at 9-over par at 225. Sydney Liles and Peeler tied for sixth at 10-over.
The regionals will be held at three different sites on May 7-9. The East Regional is at the University of Florida Golf Club in Gainesville, Fla. with the West Regional at the Karsten Golf Course at Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. The Central Regional is to be hosted by Ohio State on the Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio.
"The girls really held together over the last three rounds," said Blackmar. "They have really worked hard as a team and really deserve this opportunity to go to the regionals."