South Carolina wins regional, heads to sixth NCAA championship in a row
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Top-seeded South Carolina fired a final-round 296 (+8) to clinch its third NCAA East Regional title since 2010 on Saturday at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course. The Gamecocks finished the tournament with a 54-hole score of 877 (+13) and captured the win by eight strokes to advance to their sixth consecutive NCAA championship. Senior Justine Dreher earned her sixth top-five finish of the season, finishing the weekend at even-par.
The Gamecocks entered the day with an eight-stroke lead after posting the only under-par team score of the tournament (-2, 286) on Friday. Alabama and LSU each made runs at the Gamecocks, particularly on the front nine when Alabama drew within five on a few occasions, but South Carolina fought its way though a difficult back nine to stay on top.
Dreher continued her career of strong postseason play, registering her second consecutive top-five finish and her sixth of the season. Her 54-hole score of 216 (E) tied her for fifth with two others. After making the turn at 1-over, she played bogey-free on the back nine and holed a birdie on No. 15 to finish the day with a 72 (E)
Sophomore Katelyn Dambaugh turned in her best round of the weekend with a 2-under 70 on Saturday. She did not post a bogey on the front nine and made the turn at 3-under. She went 1-over on her final nine holes and posted her best career regional result in a tie for 12th at 5-over (221).
Junior Sarah Schmelzel also posted her best NCAA regional finish. She struggled after the turn and carded a final-round 77 (+5). With a three-round score of 220 (+4), Schmelzel captured 11th place, her best result since the season-opening Florida State Match-Up (T9) in February.
After a solid front nine, junior Mary Fran Hillow was 5-over on the back to card a third-round 77 (+5). Hillow was the fourth Gamecock to earn a top-25 result, tying for 22nd with a 54-hole score of 224 (+8).
After making the turn at 6-over, sophomore Jia Xin Yang battled on the back nine, carding eight pars and a birdie to also end the day at 5-over (77). Yang finished with a three-round score of 229 (+13, T48).
Also advancing to the NCAA championships in Bradenton, Florida, are Northwestern (+21), regional host N.C. State (+23), Alabama (+24), LSU (+24) and Campbell (+28).
LSU's Madeline Sagstrom captured medalist honors by six strokes, finishing the weekend at 8-under (208). Coastal Carolina's Lena Schaeffner and LSU's Caroline Nistrup took second at 2-under, and Alabama's Emma Talley was fourth at 1-under. Dreher, Furman's Taylor Totland and NC State's Rachael Taylor tied for fifth (E).
Other regional results:
-Baylor overtakes Tennessee to capture San Antonio Regional crown
-Southern California shoots 26-over, cruises to victory at St. George Regional
-Freshman Leona Maguire leads Duke to second regional title in three years