BIRMINGHAM, AL (April 17, 2016) – For the third time in program history Alabama (859) is the SEC Women's Champion winning by five over Florida (864). The Gators didn't leave Greystone Golf & Country Club empty handed however as junior Maria Torres (-9) was crowned the SEC Individual.
“This is a group of girls, at the beginning of the year, we weren’t sure what we had,” Alabama head coach Mic Potter said. “Cheyenne (Knight), as a freshman, had a good junior career but hadn’t played like she has here. And to be as dominant as she has as a freshman has made a big difference. At the beginning the year, who knew? But the more we play, the better they get. I had faith they could come out here and shoot a low score. But Florida’s a good team and they can, too. All you can do is do your best.”
Alabama and Florida began the day tied but after Bama had three players finish under-par for the tournament and inside the top-5, they were to much to overcome. Freshman Cheyenne Knight (-4) was the low Crimson Tide golfer finishing third. Defending NCAA champion senior Emma Talley (-3) was fourth and sophomore Lakareber Abe (-1) was T5.
Not far behind the top-5 trio was senior Janie Jackson (+4) in a thirteenth place tie.
Florida fell behind on the front nine in the team competition and weren't able to overcome the deficit. That didn't faze Maria Torres as she continued her historic weekend play. Torres posted under-par rounds all three days on her way to a three day total of 207 which matched the second-lowest tournament score in program history and tied the SEC Championship 54-hole scoring record.
"It feels spectacular," Maria Torres said after the best victory of her career. "I have no words to describe it yet. It was great to win the title at Greystone and with my Gator teammates. I am thankful for my teammates, my coaches, the University of Florida and my team that's back home in Puerto Rico. Without them, I would not have been able to accomplish this. Today, I was trying to stay patient, and just focus on every shot that I had in front of me – and it paid off."
Torres shot rounds of 69-68-70 as she became the seventh Gator to win the title and first since Aimee Cho in 2003.
"It's hard to put into words how proud I am of Maria, and how far she's come," Florida head coach Emily Glaser said. "The best way to sum it up is Coach Deacon mentioned to me that he saw her this past Saturday, at the course alone at 8 a.m. as he was coming into work. She had already played nine holes. That is the action of a champion, and someone who wants it, and now she is the SEC Champion."
Torres began the day with a six-stroke and did have to hang on a bit as South Carolina's Katelyn Dambaugh (-7) surged to finish two off the pace. Dambaugh was only 1-under at the start of Sunday but shot the round of the day, a 6-under 66. The junior and Second Team All-SEC member last year was just 1-under through her first 10 holes but closed out in 5-under. The sizzling stretch included an eagle on the par-5 11th and three straight birdies to finish her day.
Rounding out the team top-5 standings are Arkansas (882) in third, Texas A&M (884) in fourth and South Carolina (888) in fifth.
-Alabama and Florida athletics contributed to this story