Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Is A-Sun Final-Round Drama On the Horizon?

There has been quite a bit of action and excitement at the 2013 Atlantic Sun Women's Golf Championship, and it doesn't quite seem to be over.

On Monday, two players fired rounds of 67 to tie the championship record for a single round low, showing the field that they indeed can go low. Jessica Welch set a Jacksonville program record with her score, and ETSU's Sian Evans answered with one of her own, making her the second Buccaneer in as many years to open the A-Sun Championship with a 67.

ETSU's opening round of 287 also set the championship low for an opening round total. Then on Tuesday, FGCU shot a program best of 291 to move into second position, 11 strokes behind the championship-leading Bucs. While ETSU would seem to be in control with its double-digit lead, it was just three years ago that Stetson rallied from 12 strokes down to win its second consecutive A-Sun Championship.

Five strokes separate the championship's top 10 golfers, and the list is littered with players who can certainly put a round together to claim a title. ETSU and FGCU have ample representation, as three from each team have settled in among the conference's best for the final round. 

Defending medalist Gabriella Wahl from ETSU has been steady, shooting rounds of 71 and 70 to move into a tie for first place with teammate Evans and JU's Welch. Buc freshman Vivienne Chin has provided depth in the ETSU roster that could propel them to an A-Sun championship and well into the NCAA Regionals. Chin has six Top-25 finishes and is among the top 10 in the conference in stroke average. She also posted an under-par round of 71 on Tuesday.

Then there is the A-Sun's highest ranked individual golfer, Kennesaw State's Ines Lescudier, who has posted three of the four lowest scores in the A-Sun this season, including a 67 of her own and a pair of 69s. Lescudier finished fifth individually last season and fired one of the two lowest scores in the final round of last year's championship as her Owls claimed the team title. She has been there and done that.

Like Lescudier, FGCU's Georgia Price has quietly made her way around Pine Lakes to the tune of even par (71-73) and into a tie for fourth. Price may not be in the top 10 of low rounds and stroke average, but she gets it done, as she did in her win the JU Courtyard Classic this season. Teammate Kristin Swindell has a pair of Top-25 finishes this season, and fellow Eagle Briana Carlson posted one of only five below-par rounds in Tuesday's windy conditions at Jekyll Island.

Mercer's Lacey Fears lost to Wahl in a two-hole playoff last year, but shot a personal best and school record of 213 in the championship. She fired a 71 in Tuesday's challenging conditions. Fears has a win and four Top-10 finishes this season, as well as owning the top stroke average in the A-Sun (74.65).

You don't have to look far, however, to see other threats lurking just outside of -2. At +3, KSU senior Ket Preamchuen is the only player in the field to have finished in the Top-10 of the A-Sun Championship at least twice. Stetson's Sammi Smith tallied a two-under-par 70 on Tuesday to sit at +5. She also has a win to her credit this season. Also at +5, Mercer's Mary Alice Murphy has six Top-25 finishes along with posting two of the lowest scores in the A-Sun this season.

For some the final round of the A-Sun Championship will be a chance to improve. For others, it will be a time to shine. Will experience win out? Or will it be someone who is coming into their own? 

It is still hard to say, but it will be fun to watch.

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