Bluffton, S.C. – Laura Coble, 41, of Augusta shot a 1-over-par 74 Thursday and was her team’s low scorer for the third day in a row, leading Georgia to a two-stroke victory over a charging Alabama trio in the USGA Women’s State Team Championship on Berkeley Hall’s North Course.
Georgia finished with a 54-hole total of 4-under-par 434. Alabama was at 436. Texas and Maryland rallied to tie for third at 450. New York, which was in third place after each of the first two rounds, slipped back into a tie for fifth with Florida at 453.
Coble, an eight-time Women’s Player of the Year in Georgia, teamed with Jean Reynolds, 21, of Newnan whose 75 counted toward the team’s third-round score, and Kyu Ri Ban, 19, of Duluth for the win. The best two-of-three scores counted daily toward the team total.
“This is a national championship,” said Coble. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. This is special for us and for Georgia. I’m enjoying this as much as if I had done it individually.”
Coble was cruising along under par until she triple-bogeyed the seventh hole. Her teammates were also struggling a bit on the first nine holes, while Alabama’s duo of Candace Schepperle of Hoover and Kathy Hartwiger of Birmingham combined to stand 1 under par at the turn, making up four strokes and putting themselves within striking distance.
Still, Coble says she wasn’t too worried.
“I just had a sense of calm and confidence this week, said Coble, an insurance agent and mother of an 11-year-old. “I wanted to get off to a fast start and I did. Even when I made that triple, I just told myself that there were birdie holes ahead.”
She recovered with a birdie on the ninth and made two more birdies in her last nine holes. She would have been under par for the third consecutive round if not for the triple bogey.
“She’s our leader,” said Reynolds, a junior at the University of Georgia, of Coble. “You have to look up to her because she’s such an excellent player.”
Candace Schepperle of Hoover led Alabama's comeback that fell just short. She had three sub-par rounds, including a 70 on Thursday. (John Mummert/USGA)
Schepperle, however, edged Coble by one stroke overall for the low individual total. She tied for low honors Thursday with her 70 and had a three-day total of 6-under-par 213.
“I’ve seen a lot of golf and it’s easy to gain or lose ground in a team format,” said Scherpperle, a home-schooled high school senior who will join her older sister at Auburn next fall. “I’m not that disappointed. We did our best.”
Coble’s opening 68, the low individual round of the week, staked her team to a four-stroke advantage over Alabama after the first day. A second sub-par round (72) by Coble helped increase Georgia’s lead to seven.
The USGA Women’s State Championship is one of 15 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association in 2005. Twelve of them have been strictly for amateurs.
In the Men’s State Team Championship being held concurrently at Berkeley Hall’s South Course, Terrence Miskell of New Braunfels had three sub-par rounds as Texas finished at 422, two strokes ahead of Alabama.
Story written by Craig Smith, USGA director of media relations. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
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