Teammates douse Sierra Brooks after his win (UF Athletics photo)
HANAHAN, S.C. (Sept. 10, 2018) – As Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolinas, Monday’s final round of the Cougar Classic was called off. That didn’t bother Florida. The Gators had already gone to work, putting up rounds of 10- and 20-under to get to 30 under for 54 holes and a log a three-shot season-opening win.
The first round of the annual event at Yeamans Hall was interrupted by weather late Saturday, so most teams had to finish the first round Monday morning before beginning the second. Florida was one of only six teams to finish its first round on Sunday, and at 10-under 278, were already at the top of the leaderboard.
The biggest factor in Florida’s victory was sophomore Sierra Brooks
’s 17-under performance for 36 holes. Brooks joined the lineup in January last year after transferring from Wake Forest and made an immediate impact. Still, she never quite showed the firepower that she did this week at Yeamans Hall. Brooks had a 7-under 65 in the first round. On Monday, she went 10 under to briefly put the college-golf world on a 59 watch.
Brooks began her second round with birdies on two of her opening three holes. She added two more birdies then eagled No. 18 to make the turn at 6 under. Brooks then rattled off four consecutive birdies from Nos. 2-5, but couldn’t produce any more coming in. She had pars from Nos. 6-9 to finish with 62, and seven shots ahead of runner-up Courtney Zeng from Vanderbilt.
This marks the third career victory for Brooks in just over a semester in Gainesville, Fla. Brooks is authoring a resurgence after a stellar junior career that ended with a victory at the Sally Amateur, a runner-up finish at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur and a spot on the U.S. Curtis Cup team for the 2016 matches. An injury derailed her game for much of her true freshman season but Brooks is fighting back.
"This has been such a special week with my teammates and coaches," Brooks said. "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. It's going to be a fun year!"
Though Vanderbilt briefly leapfrogged Florida for the team lead, a 20-under 268 in the second round helped the Gators regain the lead and finish three shots ahead of the Vanderbilt team, which was 27 under for the event.
"We know the talent is there with this group but you still have to put it together, you still have to compete," head coach Emily Glaser said. "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. I'm so glad for them to have this experience, to see their potential."
Arkansas, which authored a historic seven-win season last year, was third at 16 under.
Quotes from Florida Athletics used in this report
ABOUT THE Cougar Classic
54-hole women's college
tournament hosted by the College of Charleston.
(best four scores out of five players) and individual
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