The Florida women’s golf team started its season in the Palmetto State this week, competing at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, South Carolina. In a competition that saw more than five teams grab a share of first place at some point, Florida ended up with a third-place finish behind Baylor and Arkansas Tuesday.
The Gators went to battle against plenty of teams that are ranked around the same tier as themselves. While Florida is ranked 25th by GolfWeek’s Sagarin rankings, the team faced off against No. 22 Georgia, No. 9 Baylor and No. 15 Arkansas as well as local rivals like Central Florida.
Up-and-down round one
The Gators dodged early-round jitters in Charleston, jumping out to a share of first place with the Knights. Both new transfer Jackie Lucena and sophomore Maisie Filler birdied three of their first eight holes. As the round progressed, however, Florida came back down to earth to finish in fifth place at 1 over par.
Filler provided the low round of her team with a 1-under-par 71. The Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, native showed promise at the NCAA Regionals last spring, finishing 12th at the competition.
Round two refinement
After a mediocre first round, coach Emily Glaser needed to rebound for Monday’s second set of 18 holes. She received exactly what she wanted.
Senior Clara Manzalini made a night-and-day change from her 2 over par first round performance, wrapping up at 5-under 67 via five birdies, including four in her final six holes on the back nine. Filler shot a 2-under 70 with a single bogey, and after two rounds, she and Manzalini were tied for ninth in the competition.
Elsewhere in the Gators’ lineup, junior Marina Escobar improved from her even-par opening round with a 1-under 71 including four back-nine birdies. Fellow juniors Annabell Fuller and Jackie Lucena stayed level-par for the second consecutive round. These scores pushed Florida back toward the top of the leaderboard, where it stood tied for third with UCF after the second round.
Final round push
The highly touted Fuller finally made her mark on the competition in the final round on Tuesday. Scoring 3 under par, the Kingston upon Thames, England, native recorded five birdies in her first 10 holes. From there, she stayed consistent, parring her last three holes to secure the Gators third-place finish.
Georgia senior Jenny Bae bogeyed on the 18th hole and Bulldogs junior Caroline Craig double-bogeyed. Their late blunders allowed Florida to sneak into third place.
The Gators return to action on Sept. 24, when they participate in the Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship in Nashville, Tennessee. Despite not playing a perfect three rounds, Glaser can find plenty to build off of after the opening tournament of the season.
Contact Carson Cashion at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @carsoncashion.