MacLaren, Florida International sweep titles to win first Sun Belt Championship
MIAMI, Fla. -- Florida International won its first Sun Belt Conference title on Wednesday after completing a dominating performance at the 2013 SBC championship at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at The Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Ala. The Panthers shot a three-day total of 8-over 872, 16 strokes ahead of the second-place finisher.
Along with the team title, freshman Meghan MacLaren became FIU’s first individual champion as she won the Sun Belt medalist honors with a 4-under 212 through 54 holes played. MacLaren edged Middle Tennessee’s Olivia Love, who was the only other golfer to hit under par with a 2-under 214. Despite pressure from Love during the final round The Shoals’ 17 and 18 holes provided the difference as MacLaren birdied the tough par-5 17, while Love made par. McLaren was then able to seal the individual medalist honors with a par on the 18th hole.
With MacLaren, freshman Sophie Godley and senior Tania Tare were also selected to the All-Tournament Team. Godley tied for fourth with a 2-over (78-69-71-218), while Tare was one stroke behind at 3-over (73-77-69-219).
Of the 10 under-par rounds totaled by the 55 competitors, five were scored by FIU players -- MacLaren (71, 68), Godley (69, 71) and Tare (69).
With the tournament victory, FIU earned an automatic berth into the upcoming NCAA championship.
FIU never trailed in any of the three rounds (298-287-287) and tied for the third-lowest score (872) recorded at the event. Former Sun Belt member Denver last scored an 872 in 2012. FIU’s 1-under 287 in both the second and third rounds were the only below-par rounds by any of the 11 schools competing. South Alabama was the closest, hitting even-par (288) in the third round.
FIU’s previous top marks at the SBC Championship were two second-place finishes in 2000 and 2007. Individually, FIU alumna Katie Mundy was the previous highest-placing Panther with her second-place finish in 2012.
MacLaren also led start to finish (71-68-73-212) en route to shooting 4-under. Her 212 score was the top individual mark for a champion since Denver’s Stephanie Sherlock scored a 208 in 2008 and the second-best three-round total in the history of the Sun Belt event (1990 to present).
Senior Yolecci Jimenez had her best SBC championship outing, tying for 15th with a 9-over (78-7374-225). Her previous best finish was 24th as a junior.
Junior Shelby Coyle rounded out FIU's scoring, tying for 39th with a 19-over (76-81-78-235).