Women’s golf team cruises to victory

Anthony Johnson

Three Tide players collected top-10 finishes as the Alabama women’s golf team coasted to an 11-shot victory Tuesday at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

The victory was the first of the season for the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide and its first team title since March 2009. Alabama carded a 54-hole total of 872(+8), which marked the fifth-best total in school history.

“With the scores we had been shooting in qualifying, I felt good about the team’s chances heading into this tournament, especially with the conditions we were going to face,” head coach Mic Potter said. “I felt great about the competitiveness of the team and their overall self-concept of us as a team.

“We still have things that we need to improve on, but for this time of the year, I was really pleased with the way that we played.”

Leading the way for the Tide was junior Camilla Lennarth, who heading into the tournament was the eighth-ranked golfer in the country, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Lennarth finished with an even-par score of 216 after carding rounds of 74, 72 and 70. Lennarth’s performance propelled her to a seventh place tie with teammate Jennifer Kirby, her fourth top-ten finish in five tournaments this season.

“It was a great way to start the season,” Lennarth said. “I felt like we had a great attitude. We were positive, and we really just had a lot of fun while we were out there.”

Sophomore Brooke Pancake recorded her first top-ten finish of the season after firing rounds of 75, 69 and 73, a three-day total of 217(+1).

Senior Rhea Nair turned in her best performance of the year with a three-day total of 227(+11), which landed her a top-25 finish.

“We are still capable of a lot more,” Nair said. “I didn’t really play as well as I would have liked, but everyone on the team stepped up when they needed to and we were able to get a win. We have to learn from the mistakes we made in this tournament and continue to get better because we still haven’t played our best golf yet.”

Potter said the key to the Tide’s success won’t be based upon 200-yard iron shots or picturesque drives. Instead, it will come primarily on the greens.

“Usually the difference in us playing extremely well or playing average comes down to how well we putt,” he said. “There were many putts we didn’t make in the fall that proved to be the difference in winning and losing. The girls really spent a lot of time in the offseason inside working on their short game, and I think it showed in this performance.”

The Tide will return to action starting March 12 at the Tiger/Wave Golf Classic at the English Turn Golf Club in New Orleans, La.

“We have four weeks until we play again,” Potter said. “So we need to take advantage of the time we have and get better as a team.”