Dambaugh Leads Gamecocks To Second-Straight NCAA Regional Title

By: USC SID

Photo: GamecocksOnline.com

BATON ROUGE, La. (USC SID) — For the second-straight season and the fourth time in the last seven years, the South Carolina women’s golf program finished atop the leaderboard at an NCAA Regional. The No. 24 Gamecocks posted a final-round 290 (+2) on Saturday to earn a share of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional title with a three-day total of 857 (-7). No. 5 Florida converted a birdie on its final hole of the tournament and fired a 277 (-11) in round three to rally from a 13-stroke deficit and match South Carolina’s 54-hole total at University Club.

Junior Katelyn Dambaugh powered the Gamecocks to victory in historic fashion, matching the program’s top 54-hole individual score (207, -9) on the way to her first career medalist honors. The Goose Creek, S.C., native tallied a tournament-best 16 birdies and finished under par in all three rounds throughout the week.

The Gamecocks, who distanced themselves from the field with a program-record 277 (-11) in round two, finished just four strokes off the school 54-hole record. Three golfers finished par or better for South Carolina on Saturday, including senior Sarah Schmelzel, who converted a clutch birdie putt on No. 17 to help secure the win. With the victory, the Gamecocks earned a spot in the 24-team field at the NCAA Championships, set for May 20-25 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. No. 13 Washington, No. 4 Duke, No. 20 Oregon and BYU marked the other schools to qualify for the women’s golf national championship event from the Baton Rouge Regional.

This week was the first victory of the season for South Carolina and the eighth time the Gamecocks have won a tournament under head coach Kalen Anderson. Dambaugh becomes the 16th player in program history to earned medalist honors, and she is the third Gamecock to accomplish the feat at an NCAA postseason event. All four of South Carolina’s NCAA Regional victories have come under Anderson.

Dambaugh carded a final-round 71 (-1), with all three of her birdies coming on the front nine. The junior finished her week ranked second in par-4 scoring and third in par-3 scoring, and her performance marked her third-straight top-three finish.

Schmelzel finished in a tie for 12th following her final-round 72 (E). The Phoenix, Ariz., native collected three birdies and played her last nine holes at 1-under (35) to end her week with a 216 (E). Schmelzel has placed in the top-15 at the NCAA regionals in each of the last two seasons.

Freshman Marion Veysseyre (T19), one of three South Carolina golfers making their NCAA postseason debut this week, marked the other Gamecock to garner a top-20 finish. She totaled a career-best 219 (+3) and finished par or better in two of her three rounds. Veysseyre registered six birdies in the final round, including three over her final six holes.

Sophomore Ainhoa Olarra and freshman Isidora Nilsson both ended their week just outside of the top-25 for the Gamecocks. Olarra (29th) posted a 77 (+5) on day three to finish with a 222 (+6), while Nilsson (T30) turned in her best 54-hole performance ever, a 7-over 223.

SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS

  1. Katelyn Dambaugh 70-66-71=207 (-9)

T12. Sarah Schmelzel 75-69-72=216 (E)

T19. Marion Veysseyre 70-77-72=219 (+3)

  1. Ainhoa Olarra 76-69-77=222 (+6)

T30. Isidora Nilsson 75-73-75=223 (+7)

TEAM STANDINGS

T1. South Carolina 290-277-290=857 (-7)

T1. Florida 293-287-277=857 (-7)

  1. Washington 286-289-288=863 (-1)
  2. Duke 298-287-285=870 (+6)
  3. Oregon 292-296-294=882 (+18)
  4. Brigham Young 290-290-296=884 (+20)
  5. Houston 295-300-290=885 (+21)
  6. Arizona State 296-298-297=891 (+27)

T9. East Carolina 301-301-302=904 (+40)

T9. Harvard 308-295-301=904 (+40)

  1. LSU 299-310-296=905 (+41)
  2. North Carolina State 307-307-293=907 (+43)
  3. Augusta 311-301-301=913 (+49)
  4. North Florida 322-300-303=925 (+61)
  5. Denver 315-304-307=926 (+62)
  6. New Mexico 313-309-305=927 (+63)
  7. Wichita State 312-308-315=935 (+71)
  8. Fairleigh Dickinson 322-313-321=956 (+92)

QUOTING HEAD COACH KALEN ANDERSON

“We did a phenomenal job, our freshmen really stepped up and Katelyn had her first win. It was a team effort all around, and we’re really excited to be moving on. We’re just going to carry it through. I think we’re playing our best golf right now, and we’re excited to see what we could do in Oregon.”

ROUND CHANGER

Katelyn Dambaugh maintained a comfortable individual lead in the early stages of the third round with thee front-nine birdies. The junior shot par or better on 17 of her 18 holes on Saturday.

NOTABLES

  • South Carolina’s 857 was its second-lowest 54-hole total in NCAA Regional history.
  • The Gamecocks have earned top-three finishes in each of the last three years at the NCAA regionals.
  • This weekend’s victory secured South Carolina its seventh-straight trip to the NCAA Championship.
  • Junior Katelyn Dambaugh has broken par in each of her last five rounds and finished par or better in all six rounds during the postseason.
  • With her first-place finish, Dambaugh broke the school record for the most top-five finishes (6) in a season by a junior.
  • The Gamecocks were one of just three schools to have three golfers finish in the top-20 at University Club.

UP NEXT

The Gamecocks will compete at the 2016 NCAA Championship later this month (May 20-25) at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. It will mark South Carolina’s 16th appearance at the championship event.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks