ELGIN, S.C. – Despite vying for a second-place spot for most of the day, Carson-Newman moved into a tie for fifth by the end of the third round to close out the South Atlantic Conference Women's Golf Championship on Tuesday.
The Eagles were 30 strokes out of the lead for a majority of the day, but a 10-shot improvement in the final round helped them to make the move they were looking for, 36 strokes behind SAC Champion No. 15 Wingate.
Carson-Newman was +30 on Tuesday with a 318 round score, moving the team's tournament score to 976, mirroring that of its fifth-place counterpart in Anderson. The team ended in a tie with Queens for the second-best par 3 scoring team with a 3.38 clip.
"We had a great first nine holes today but then just seemed to stumble at the end," head coach Suzanne Strudwick said. "We were at least able to move up a little bit into a tie for fifth which is respectable, but I'm still disappointed with our overall performance.
"We need to learn how to finish strong because that seems to be our biggest struggle this season."
Elizabeth England (Oakland, Tenn.) was the lowest scoring Eagle on Tuesday with a five-over score of 77. She landed at sixth-place in her final SAC Championship with a 237 total, +21 through three rounds. The senior was one-over through the back nine to start the day with a trio of bogeys that were counteracted by a pair of birdies. She started the front nine with three-straight bogeys before she carded two more and a birdie to go four-over to end the day.
The senior's finish was enough to help her land a spot on the All-Tournament second team, her third time doing so in her career.
Anna Davenport (Roswell, Ga.) ended her first championship just four strokes behind the senior with a 241 total, good enough for a tie at the 12th spot. The junior was eight-over for the second-straight day. She began Tuesday with a +2 showing in the back nine with a bogey, double bogey and birdie before a slew of bogeys gave her a six-over score through the first nine holes of the course.
Davenport and England both landed in a tie for second in the tournament for Par 3 shooting, each shooting +2 on such holes with a 3.17 average.
Jayla Sims (Hixson, Tenn.) landed in a tie for 26th in the tournament after an 11-over showing in the third round for a three-round total of 248. The freshman shot for par on 11 holes in the final round with four bogeys, a pair of double bogeys and a triple bogey on the ninth to close the day.
Reagan Kinnie (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) shot her best round of the championship on Tuesday with a +6 score of 78, improving by nine strokes through the entire tournament. Her total score of 251 was good enough for a tie at 31st. The sophomore was three-over to start the morning through the back nine of the course with four bogeys and a birdie. At the turn of the day, she recorded a double bogey and three bogeys but made up ground with a pair of birdies to go three-over in the afternoon.
Allie Fletcher (Cumming, Ga.) concluded the tournament in a tie for 42nd at 43-over for the three rounds of play. The third round began in promising fashion for the sophomore with a +3 score at the turn. In the front nine, she found struggles with just two par shots that sandwiched a group of five bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey to push her to another +13 round score of 85. She shot a 259 through the three days.
"Our spring has not been the best as a team but there has been individual progress made, which is a bright spot looking ahead," Strudwick mentioned. "We seem to have youth on our side and are building for next year. There were girls we had to leave back at home who definitely could have participated and had good performances, so that does leave me hopeful for the future."
Wingate notched its fourth conference crown thanks to a +76 total of 940. The 15th-ranked team in the nation won the event by a hefty 26 strokes. Queens was second in the field with a 966 while No. 25 Lenoir-Rhyne finished third with a 974.
Warissa Puangcharoen of Wingate was the top medalist at the event with a +16 total of 232. Queens' Cameryn Smith was just one shot behind in second with a 233 while Kate Hill from Anderson rounded out the top-three with a 235.
The Eagles now await their fate for the NCAA Division II Women's Golf Super Regionals. The women's selections will take place on April 30.