Facing elimination on Monday, the Gators women’s golf team showed no quit, posting the third-lowest team score on the day to advance to match play in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship in Sugar Grove, Illinois.
After the first nine holes of play against Arizona State on Tuesday, the Gators once again found themselves in a jam, down in all five of their matchups.
Junior Taylor Tomlinson fought her way back to tie up her battle with ASU junior Sophia Zeeb 15 holes in, and senior Kelly Grassel, down three strokes through the turn, came to within one against ASU sophomore Linnea Strom.
However, the late comeback attempts were not enough this time as ASU beat Florida 5-0 in match play, ending its season one day before the national championship final.
Coach Emily Glaser had some regrets about the way her team played down the stretch, but recognized her squad was up against an exceptional opponent in the Sun Devils.
“Arizona State is a fantastic team with really talented players,” Glaser said in a release. “I wish we would have played a little better today. I thought we made it too easy on them. You could play great against a team like ASU and still lose. But to give so many away today is the thing that hurts the most.”
Senior Maria Torres, considered the anchor of this Gators golf team, capped off her Florida career with a valiant effort against Roberta Liti. After falling behind early, Torres managed to tie up her match with the ASU junior after four holes. It wasn’t enough, however, as Liti went on to best Torres in the next four holes and hold onto the victory.
The Gators graduate three seniors from their team — Torres, Grassel and Karolina Vlckova. Glaser said that the impact of her first recruiting class has been widely felt among the team.
“We will miss our three seniors,” Glaser said. “The mark that they have left on this program is more than any of us could have imagined. They have been such great ambassadors for Florida women's golf and we can't thank them enough.”
Despite the losses on and off the course, Florida will return three of its top performers in Tomlinson, sophomore Sam Wagner and freshman Marta Perez.
“We had a great year,” Glaser said. “You never want it to end, but we have a lot to be proud of and no one should be hanging their heads."
Contact Morgan McMullen at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin.
Kelly Grassel lines up a shot during the 2015 Suntrust Gator Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville.