Sierra Brooks

Junior Sierra Brooks (17-under) took home the individual title during a shortened opening weekend at the Cougar Classic in Hanahan, South Carolina. Florida won the tournament by three strokes. 

The UF women’s golf team continued its impressive play on Monday, capping off a two-day performance at the Cougar Classic that saw the team score a 30-under, 546 overall.

The decision was made to shorten the tournament from 54 to 36 holes due to the approaching Hurricane Florence. The change gave Florida its first tournament title of the season.

The Gators defeated SEC rival Vanderbilt (27-under) by three strokes. Both teams separated themselves from the rest of the field with Arkansas (16-under) finishing in third place Monday afternoon.

Junior Sierra Brooks had one of the best tournaments of her career, finishing at 17-under, on her way to securing the individual title.

Brooks finished at 10-under in the second round, making four birdies on the front nine and four birdies and an eagle on the back nine. The Orlando, Florida, native finished her second round with a score of 62, breaking a Cougar Classic record.

“Sierra made a statement this week,” coach Emily Glaser said in a press release. “She has been vocal about how excited she is to compete this year and how she wants to lead our team. This week she walked the walk. She’s a great teammate, she works incredibly hard, I’m so happy to see her not only get the win but to play some fantastic golf.”

Brooks herself was ecstatic about her performance after the tournament.

“This has been such a special week with my teammates and coaches. It’s exciting to start the year off on a positive note and means even more to start the season with a team and individual win.”

Although Brooks stole the show, UF had three other golfers finish the tournament in the top 25.

Freshman Clara Manzalini completed her Gators debut with a 5-under second round on Monday, putting home five birdies on her way to a third-place finish on the individual leaderboard with an 8-under.

Glaser was impressed with how the freshman handled herself in her first college tournament.

“A huge contribution from Clara this week,” Glaser said. “She is so athletic and talented and has brought an awesome energy to the team.”

Sophomore Addison Baggarly (4-under) and junior Marta Perez (1-under) rounded out the top-25 finishers for the Gators.

Baggarly ended tied for 15th after a 4-under, five-birdie outing in the second round, while Perez came in tied for 24th after Monday’s round. She managed to finish at 1-under for the round thanks to four birdies on the day.

“We know the talent is there with this group but you still have to put it together,” Glaser said. “You still have to compete. And they did that this week. They prepared well, they had a good plan and obviously executed. Today was a special day, 20-under is incredible.”

The Gators will compete next at the Mary Fossum Invitational on Sept. 15-16.

The tournament, which will take place in East Lansing, Michigan, will be hosted by Michigan State.

 

You can follow Evan Lepak on Twitter @evanmplepak or contact him at [email protected]

Evan Lepak is a Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida, covering both UF cross country and UF swimming and diving. He has been with the Florida Alligator since Summer 2018.