It wasn’t exactly how head coach Gary Guyer had envisioned the season ending, but nevertheless, he was happy with his team’s performance.
The Mercer women’s golf program slipped two spots in the conference tournament after the second day, but would hold their position during the final round to finish eighth in the final tournament of the year.
Finishing 13 strokes behind seventh place Belmont and 61 strokes behind A-Sun Champion Stetson, the Mercer women saw their 2009 spring campaign come to a close.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t win, but the girls played really well,” said the Mercer head coach afterwards on MercerBears.com. "We played the best that we can play. Our three rounds this week were the three lowest scores we’ve shot all season. It’s just the conference keeps getting better and better. We are continuing to improve also, but just today it wasn’t good enough to win.”
While the low finish wasn’t what fans had hoped for, the Bears improved their overall team score by six strokes since the November’s Holiday Inn Express/Hatter Invitational on the same course.
Junior Monica Kelsey and freshman Alicia Poole each saw improvements in their individual scores, with Kelsey shooting three strokes better (+16) and Poole playing three consistent rounds to finish in a tie for 30th (+20).
Early in the tournament, Alex Quagliata grabbed the spotlight for the Bears after a top-10 effort in the first round, shooting a 74 (+2).
The beginning of her second round seemed to be a continuation of the first day until she ran into trouble on the seventh and eighth holes, triple-bogeying both to finish the round with an 83.
On the final day of the event, the junior bounced back to card an 80 after a much more consistent round on the front nine. Quagliata would finish the tournament in a tie for 32nd at +21.
After two average rounds in the first two days, Kelsey stepped up her game with a final round 75 (+3). Despite only two hiccups during the round—a bogey on the 2nd hole and a double bogey on the 8th—Kelsey shot par on the remaining 16 holes en route to her best round of the tournament.
Her final score of 232 was identical to her A-Sun Tournament during her freshman year. In 2007, Kelsey finished eighth in the final standings after sharing the lead of the tournament following the first round.
Rounding out Mercer’s lineup was freshman Leslie Choucard (+24) and sophomore Kayli Wicker (+34). Sitting out the previous tournament after reported back problems, Choucard had a troublesome first round (84) before bouncing back for a 79 and 77 in the final two days.
The France native would eventually finish in a tie for 38th at +24.
Wicker, in her second tournament of the spring, would finish 47th at +34.
Stetson claimed their first A-Sun team title in the school’s history as Danielle Jackson (-3) would finish the tournament with a 69 (-2) round to take the individual victory.
Campbell University finished a mere two strokes behind the Hatters, while heavily favored ETSU finished third in the final standings.
Looking at next season, Mercer will return every player from the 2009 roster, with Kelsey, Quagliata, and Carolyn Levy shaping up to lead the Bears next year in a vastly improving conference.
Photo courtesy of MercerBears.com