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Thursday, October 28, 2021
Sierra Brooks

Sophomore Sierra Brooks and the Florida Gators ended their season at the NCAA Championships.

Seven top-five team finishes. Four top-three finishes. Two team wins. Nine top-five individual finishes. Two individual championships.

All these accomplishments add up to one hell of a 2017-18 season for the young Florida Gators women’s golf team.

UF came up short at the NCAA National Championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Sunday evening, closing in 21st out of 24 teams. The top 15 teams advance to match play, the next round of the tournament.

The Gators began the day in a good spot, starting in 13th before shooting 15 over Sunday and closing at 45 over. They shot 15 over as a team in each of the three rounds of the tournament.

“We didn't improve from day one which was disappointing,” head coach Emily Glaser said in a release. “We didn't make the adjustments needed to keep pace.”

Alabama won the day by shooting a 4 under, the best score of the round. It closed at 2 under and in first. Behind Bama was UCLA, which began the day in first and ended in second after shooting a 9 over in round three and closing at 6 over.

Arizona (16 over), Northwestern (18 over) and Southern Cal (21 over) rounded out the top five. Another team of note to move onto the next round was UF’s in-state rival FSU, which carded an overall score of 30 over and settled in 9th.

Florida couldn’t get things going throughout the entire lineup. No Gators made the cut, as the top 30 players advanced.

Sophomore transfer Sierra Brooks concluded in the highest place on the team in a tie for 35th. A 1-over round on Sunday would bring her final score up to 6 over.

Interestingly enough, Brooks was paired with one of her old teammates, Jennifer Kupcho, from Wake Forest, a school in which she had a tumultuous experience. Kupcho ended up in a tie for first on the tournament, but the Demon Deacons just missed the cut after tying for 16th.

Brooks had an incredible spring season after she arrived late in the fall for the Gators as a transfer from Wake Forest.

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She won two tournaments – the Florida Challenge in Lecanto, Florida, and the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans Louisiana. In her first SunTrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville, she finished as runner-up.

Sophomore Marta Perez cranked an even round out on Sunday, the best of any Gator on the day. That score would bump her into a tie for 57th.

Perez, along with teammate Taylor Tomlinson, was a workhorse for Florida, playing in all 13 tournaments on the season. She was also the Gators’ best finisher in three of them.

Tomlinson, a senior from Gainesville, concluded her UF career Sunday. Her final Florida round was an 8 over and her final Florida score was a 14 over, which left her in a tie for 83rd. Tomlinson helped the Gators to three NCAA Championship appearances over her career.

(Taylor) epitomizes what it means to be a great student-athlete,” Glaser said. “We will be forever grateful for all she gave to the University of Florida and our program.”

Following Tomlinson was freshman Addie Baggarly, who shot a 6 over in the third round. That score resulted in a final card of 17 over and a tie for 98th. Baggarly finished her year with three top-25 finishes.

Finally, for the Gators in Stillwater, was redshirt freshman Elin Esborn, who closed her first official season with a tie for 116th after an 8 over Sunday. Her final score was 24 over.

Esborn had an inconsistent season, but showed flashes of brilliance with three top-five finishes.

Although Florida had a disappointing end to a stellar season, the team has incredible potential. The only golfer that is leaving, as of this article, is Tomlinson.

“Our young roster has a lot to take away and gained a ton of valuable experiences,” Glaser said. “(It) should serve them well in the future.”

You can follow Chris O’Brien on Twitter @THEChrisOB and contact him at cobrien@alligator.org.

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