Faced with severe rain and constant scheduling changes, the UF women’s golf team had a chaotic weekend at the Therese Hession Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes California. Despite the external challenges, the team put together a successful weekend, finishing third out of 16 teams in their spring opener.
Saturday was meant to be a practice round for teams to get a feel for the course. But due to weather, the format was changed to two rounds of match play. Despite this, the Gators came out strong in the tournament's first round. Up against a tough opponent in No. 20 Pepperdine, Florida played an impressive round and won 4-1.
Fifth-year Jackie Lucena put the Gators on the board first in a dominant 6 and 5 win. She only dropped one hole in the entire round and was the first golfer on the course to secure her match.
Senior Maisie Filler secured the second point for Florida with a 5 and 4 win in which she didn’t concede a single hole.
Pepperdine fought back, grabbing its first point of the match after Filler’s match. Though, it wouldn’t matter. Tied in her match with six holes left, freshman Paula Francisco won four consecutive holes on her way to a 4 and 2 win to clinch the match for the Gators.
Freshman Sophie Stevens would then play out her match and earn Florida its fourth point in a 2 and 1 win.
UF moved on to the semifinals to take on No. 4 UCLA. Stevens gave Florida the early lead with a 4 and 3 win. An eagle gave her a two-hole lead with seven holes remaining, and she held on to secure the point.
At this point, Florida and UCLA were split, each holding the lead in two of the four matches remaining.
Instead of a fight to the finish, darkness suspended play and each match was conceded to the golfer leading at the time. Filler and freshman Inès Archer were both 1 up on their opponents and were given the points, allowing UF to win the 3-2 over the Bruins.
Sunday, Florida took on No. 8 Texas in what would end up being their final match of the tournament. Archer secured the first point for the Gators, winning four of five holes on the back nine to cruise to a 5 and 4 win. After Archer’s point, Texas held the lead in three of the remaining four matches.
But they didn’t hold their lead for long. Filler pulled out a 2 and 1 win to tie the match 2-2 and remain undefeated in her matches on the weekend.
It all came down to Lucena, who had to battle back from a three-hole deficit. She was able to tie her match through 16 holes but ultimately could not pull out the win, conceding the next hole and tying the last. The Longhorns took the win 3-2.
The Gators were set to take on No.1 Wake Forest in the match for third place Monday afternoon. However due again to severe weather, all matches and the remainder of the tournament were canceled and Florida was awarded third place.
Florida women’s golf will be back in action Feb. 18 at the Moon Golf Invitational in Melbourne, Florida.
Contact Hannah Getman at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @hannahgetman