To say Nova Southeastern dominated the NCAA Women’s Division II Golf Championships is a bit of an understatement.
The Sharks, under seventh-year head coach Kevin Marsh, stood at 5-over-par 1157 after 72 holes. The previous DII tournament record was 17-over by Rollins College in 2005. Rollins, runner-up in 2011, finished 27 strokes back.
Individually, Sharks finished 1-2-3 led by senior Taylor Collins, who shot three rounds in the 60s and ended at 10-under-par 278. The previous record was held by Rollins’ Joanna Coe, who earned medalist in 2008 at 1-under.
2010 medalist Sandra Changkija, at 2-under, and Abbey Gittings, at 1-under, were the only other players in the field under par.
Collins, Changkija, Fredrika Hakkanson (T27) and Nicole Whitmore (T36) were all seniors.
“It’s hard to believe this all started four years ago in Houston when these four freshmen finished as the national runner-up in the 2008 national tournament,” Marsh said. “It was then we knew we had a special group. I don’t think I will ever come across another group of individuals like them in my coaching career. They have a great mix of talent and it was exciting to see them together again finishing their collegiate careers with a third national title.”
The week belonged to Collins, a native of Ft. Lauderdale who tied for 21st at the 2010 Championships. In the third round Collins shot 66, setting a new single-round D-II record.
“One of the things I’ve been working on a lot for the past couple of months is my putting,” said Collins. “I’ve been practicing, going to the gym and reading books on putting as well as the mental aspect of the game because that’s where I normally struggle.
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“It has been a long process and I’ve been working really hard, but it just happened to click this week at nationals.”
“I think what a lot of people forget is that Taylor is a First-Team All-American and one of the top-three Division II players in the country,” Marsh said. “I expected her to have the best finish of her career at nationals.”
Rollins loses two starters, including Coe, a four-time All-American.
The Division III women’s championship trophy should probably be called the “Methodist Trophy.” The same can be said for medalist honors.
The Monarchs won a 14th consecutive title, out-distancing second place Gustavus Adolphus by 12 shots in the rain-shortened, 54-hole tournament at Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
Methodist senior Paige Caldwell led by three strokes over Centre College’s Emily Bachert when third round play started and became the program’s fourth medalist since 2000 – Susan Martin and Charlotte Williams each won two.
Need to Know
• Division I hits the course for its final tournament of the season Wednesday in Bryan, Texas. No player enters the tournament hotter than Tennessee junior Erica Popson. Popson, a native of Florida, started a string of four consecutive wins in Bryan, winning the Bryan National Collegiate in late March. She followed that up with victories at the Rebel Intercollegiate, the SEC Championships and the NCAA West Regional. She opened the SEC’s with a 66.
“I’ve never seen anybody do what she’s doing in college golf,” said Tennessee head coach Judi Pavon. “She’s been doing everything well, and she’s staying confident and positive. She’s hitting the ball great. I’m really proud of her and looking forward to see what she can do at Nationals.”
Popson is ranked fifth by Golfweek behind Marta Silva (Georgia), Lizette Salas (Southern California), Sophia Popov (Southern Cal) and Stephanie Meadow (Alabama).
• One freshman finished among the top 50 at the DII Championships, Tarleton State’s Sharon Lau, who played her final 36 holes in 2-under-par and finished at 9-over and in ninth. Lau, a native of Malaysia, had eight top-10 finishes as a rookie.
• Ten freshmen finished among the top 50 at the DIII championships, five among the top 25. Washington University’s Andrea Hibbert led the pack at 27-over and a tie for 12th. Depauw’s Paige Gooch and St. Mary’s College’s Marin Beaghley tied for 14th at 28-over for the week. Illinois Wesleyan’s Katie Klosterman also found her way into the top 20.