Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Steady Stetson Senior Stokes Hot Play

Senior Lauren Darnell was running out of chances to post her first career round in the 60’s. That achievement probably was not even on her mind however.

The defending champion Stetson Hatters stood 12 shots out of the lead heading into the final round of the Atlantic Sun Women’s Golf Championship. Worse than that, they were in fifth place meaning the team would have to leap-frog four other teams to reclaim the trophy.

Some would find the pressure a too daunting to overcome, but not the Hatters.

“We had nothing to lose so it actually took a little bit of the pressure off,” stated Darnell.

The coach felt the same way.

“Everyone went out with the mindset that we had to play a good round, but there was really no pressure on us,” head coach Floyd Kerr said. “When you are in fifth place going into the last round and 10 or 11 shots back, there is no pressure.”

Her free-wheeling round sparked Stetson to a remarkable rally and second straight tournament title. Darnell carded four birdies on her way to the low round of the day, a 3-under par 69. She made the turn at 2-under par and by then, the Hatters believed.

“Playing early and getting time in without the wind was an advantage,” reflected Kerr. “We turned at two or three under and at No. 12 someone told me we were three back and I thought we had a chance to win the thing.”

Darnell birdied No. 11 to fall to 3-under par, but a bogey on the next hole cooled her hot streak. At this point, the train could have de-railed, but she responded immediately with a birdie on No. 13. She worked her way through the final five holes at even par to put Stetson into a position to win.

“We knew we had to play a good round. We tried not to put too much pressure on ourselves but still go shoot a number that we knew we could shoot,” Darnell said.

So with her teammates finishing the job, the Hatters become just the fourth team in A-Sun history to win consecutive titles. The Stetson women’s golf restoration process is complete thanks in large part to the senior class of Darnell and 2009 A-Sun Medalist Danielle Jackson.

“Our seniors have given Stetson women’s golf some identity in the four years they have been here,” spewed Kerr. “When they came here as freshmen, we were terrible and now we are arguably a top-50 team. They have been the cornerstones.”

With three underclassmen combining to shoot 1-over par in today’s crucial round including likely A-Sun Freshman of the Year Alexandria Buelow, the up-tick may continue in DeLand.

What is the most clutch senior performance that you have seen?

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