Photo courtesy of LSU Athletics
Depth is everything in college golf as the fourth and fifth players in the lineup can determine their team's fate on any given day.
LSU had their backs against the wall entering the final round of the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate on Wednesday as the sixth-ranked Tigers trailed 36-hole leader South Carolina by four strokes.
On a day the Tigers' Big Three of Ingrid Lindblad (74), Latanna Stone (76) and Carla Tejedo Mulet (80) weren't at the top of their games, it was two underclassmen that led LSU to its fourth team title of the season.
Behind a 4-under 67 by freshman Edit Hertzman and a 1-under 71 by sophomore Aine Donegan, the Tigers shot a final round 3-over 287 to roar past their ACC rival on their way to capturing the team title of one of the most prestigious events of the year.
"I've been telling them all year that they're deep and good," said LSU head coach Garrett Runion. "They're also real consistent, which keeps us in a lot of tournaments and hopefully we can keep this going."
If the bottom of LSU's lineup continues to shine like it did on Wednesday, the Tigers will be a tough out at the NCAA Championships in May at Grayhawk Golf Club.
"They (Hertzman and Donegan) stepped up in a big way," said Runion. "Edit was playing in just her fifth collegiate tournament and almost won it on a course that is extremely difficult coming down the stretch with the win. And Aine was just Steady Eddie.
It's special when you can count on some of the younger players to play well when we needed it."
The Tigers did have some help, however, as South Carolina could not find the magic that kept them atop the leaderboard over the first two days, stumbling to an 11-over 295 over the final 18 holes.
All was not lost for the host school, however, as South Carolina's Mathilde Claisse won the first individual title of her career. The senior from Paris, France carded three sub-par rounds (69-69-70) on Long Cove Club's demanding layout to finish at 5-under 208, which was good for a one-shot win over Hertzman of LSU.
Claisse began the day with a two-shot lead over Auburn's Megan Schofill and was three clear Lindblad, the second-ranked female amateur in the world who was in search of her 11th collegiate victory.
While neither Schofill nor Lindblad was able to mount a final round charge, it was another Tiger who applied the pressure to Claisse.
Hertzman began the day tied for seventh at even par, which left her four shots off the lead. Playing in just her fifth collegiate event, the freshman from Gavle, Sweden, soared up the leaderboard and managed to take a one-shot lead after a third consecutive birdie on the par-3, 135-yard 13th which left her at 5-under for the tournament.
Claisse regained a share of the lead after draining a long birdie putt on the 15th and after Hertzman dropped a shot on the 17th to fall back to 4-under, the South Carolina senior made three consecutive pars to gain the first individual title of her career.
"It's very special," Claisse told the GOLF Channel following her round. "I came into this week with big dreams and big expectations and was able to make them come true. Playing in front of this crowd and the Long Cove community - it may not be Columbia but it's home for us."
After making a tap-in par on the final hole, her teammates drenched her in water, shouting, "Tilly, Tilly, Tilly." The celebration was shortlived, however, as the first-time winner will take an on-line midterm tonight and will be back in Columbia for another tomorrow morning.
ABOUT THE Darius Rucker Intercollegiate
54-hole collegiate invitational hosted by the
University of South Carolina women's team. Team
four scores out of five players each day) and
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