The first round of the Atlantic Sun Championship this year went according to plan as the Mercer women’s golf team blistered the field with an opening-day 300, a team record. Kimberly Graff’s 70 put her in the tournament lead, but after a difficult second and third rounds the team would stagger to a 6th-place finish.
Stetson won their third title in a row as Alex Buelow mastered the field with a 71-74-71. The Hatters would take the team title by 12 strokes over the Campbell Camels (906), who boasted a pair of players that tied for third, followed by Kennesaw State, ETSU and FGCU who all tied for third at 917.
Falling behind with a second-round 315, the Bears would fight back to inch up the standings with a 311 on the final day to put a sizable distance between them and the 7th-place finishers, the Jacksonville Dolphins (945).
“We played with a lot of heart today,” commented head coach Gary Guyer. “We’ve come a long, long way and we’ve got a lot more pride now.”
While Graff would start out hot, she would struggle with the course at Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, Fla., during the next two rounds with a 79-78 to finish in a tie for 11th. Still, Graff’s three-round total would count for her second lowest tournament score in her collegiate career as she showed plenty of promise and greatness during the opening round.
“Kimmy gave it everything she had this week,” Guyer said following the tournament on MercerBears.com. “I’m very proud of how she has progressed.”
Teammates Lacey Fears (T-15th, 74-81-76) and Mary Alice Murphy (T-25th, 75-82-79) would also start out hot, struggle in the second round and then bounce back with a strong third round. Kaitlin Marrin (T-25th, 81-76-79) and Aurelie Wiriath (T-36th, 85-79-78) would round out Mercer’s scorecard in the season-ending tournament.
“In my fourth year here at Mercer, this season was full of milestones, improvement and gaining experience,” Guyer explained after the tournament. “In August, I told the team that this was going to be a special year and it was. The team won the two tournaments in and during the second half of the season we continued to improve. We played very well at the Cincinnati tournament where Kaitlin Marrin blitzed the field with 11 birdies over three rounds. Obviously, our focus is winning the A-Sun Championship and I felt like we were in a great position, mentally and physically, to do so,” he added.
With all letter winners returning, Guyer’s squad will have the benefit of experience next season as they will look to once again overtake the perennial favorites in conference play. After winning two tournament titles this season, the Eat-a-Peach Classic and Coastal Georgia Invitational, Guyer’s squad will look to build upon this season’s success with a young squad. With three returning players that averaged in the 70s this season, a feat not accomplished by anyone except graduate Monica Kelsey before this season, Guyer looks forwards to the 2011-12 collegiate golf campaign in which Mercer will once again aim to upset the A-Sun’s finest.