Shelley, Olivares lead UCO past Oklahoma Christian, Oklahoma City in Diffee Ford Lincoln Invite
Emma Shelley claimed medalist honors with a playoff win and Central Oklahoma used a late surge to take the team title at the Diffee Ford Lincoln Invitational Tuesday.
Shelley topped teammate Susana Olivares and Newman’s Felisa Sajulgu on the second hole of a playoff to capture the individual crown for the second straight year, while the Bronchos came from eight shots down to edge Oklahoma Christian in the team race.
UCO closed with a 290 to finish two trips around the 5,912-yard, par-71 Lincoln Park East Course with a 587 total in ending up two shots ahead of the Eagles. Oklahoma City was third in the 15-team field at 593.
It was the second straight win of the spring season for the Bronchos, who also claimed their second consecutive Diffee Ford Lincoln Invitational title.
“I’m unbelievably proud of this group and what they accomplished this week, especially coming from eight back” head coach Michael Bond said. “They fought and grinded their tails off. It’s a special win.”
Shelley had a 1-under-par 70 in the final round to lead UCO, while Olivares shot even-par 71. Kinsley Hall added a 73, while Mika Ramos shot 76 and Madison O’Dell 80.
Shelley offset three front-nine bogeys with a pair of bogeys in making the turn at 1-over 37 and then really turned it on. The sophomore standout started the back nine with four straight pars, then made back-to-back birdies on the par-4 14th and par-5 15th before finishing with three more pars for a 2-under 33.
Olivares bogeyed the first hole, but got that stroke back with a birdie on the par-4 eighth hole in making the turn at even-par 36. The sophomore star had three birdies, three pars and three pars on the back nine in coming in with a 35.
Olivares, Shelley and Sajulga all finished with 1-over 143 totals in tying for the individual lead to set up a playoff. Shelley ended that drama with a birdie on the second playoff hole, the par-3 10th.
Kinsley shot a back-nine 35 in carding her final-round 73 and ended up sixth in the individual standings with a 146 total.
Oklahoma City, behind freshmen Maddi Kamas and Reagan Chaney along with senior Natalie Gough, moved up to third with a second-round 291, the second best score of the day. Kamas (71-73) finished tied for fourth, while Chaney (74-73) and Gough (77-70) tied for fourth.
The Eagles held the lead for much of the two-day tournament before Central Oklahoma passed them during the final holes. UCO posted an overall team score of 587, with OC at 589. The NAIA’s No. 1-ranked team, Oklahoma City University, placed third in the 15-team field at 593.
Players battled cold conditions on both days of the tournament. On Tuesday, the temperature was 34 degrees (and the wind chill was 25 degrees) when the round started and the thermometer never climbed above the low 40s throughout the day.
Two OC players recorded top-10 individual finishes in the 85-woman field. Alexandria Bennett, a junior from Plano, Texas, recorded five birdies en route to a 2-over-par 73 on the 5,112-yard course and she ended the tournament at 2-over 144, tied for fourth. Wilma Merenmies, a sophomore from Raasepori, Finland, had two birdies and shot a 76, putting her at 147, tied for eighth.
OC freshman Sofia Benavides Herberth, who led the tournament after Monday’s opening round, ended up 12 at 148 (6-over) after shooting a second-round 78 that included two birdies.
Another OC freshman, Sarah Sherrard of Moore, was the Eagles’ fourth top-20 finisher, tying for 18th at 154 after her second straight 77. Freshman Haley Blevins of Edmond tied for 25th at 156 thanks to a final-round 74, an eight-shot improvement over Monday.
The OCU Stars’ third-place finish snapped a streak of victories in their last four tournaments. OCU had its best string of top finishes since a run of eight wins that started in the 2007 NAIA Region VI Championships and continued with a victory in the Mary Hardin-Baylor Spring Invitational on Feb. 25-26, 2008 in Salado, Texas. That run ended with a second-place showing in the Lamar/Sam Houston State Invitational on March 10-11, 2008 in Huntsville, Texas.
Kamas produced a 71-73–144 to tie for fourth place in the tournament. Kamas, a freshman from Kingfisher, Okla., made 10 birdies among the 36 holes. She tallied a 2-under-par score on the back nine Tuesday.
Oklahoma City’s Jamie Welsh carded an 82-75–157 to tie for 29th. Welsh, a freshman from Coppell, Texas, buried four birdies and an eagle on the par-5, 480-yard 15th hole Tuesday. Paige Wood, a freshman from McKinney, Texas, had an 80-81–161 to tie for 40th.
The OCU Blue team finished eighth at 321-308–629 and came in ahead of four NCAA Division II teams. Morgan Palermo, a freshman from Parker, Colo., topped OCU Blue with a 79-73–152 to finish 16th. Palermo had five birdies.
OCU’s Lauren Behnken registered a 78-78–156 to tie for 25th, while Rachel Eckert shot an 80-77–157. Behnken, a senior from Tulsa, Okla., knocked in an eagle on the par-5, 445-yard seventh hole. Meghan Charles added an 84-80–164.
Oklahoma City returns to the course in the South Dakota State Jackrabbit Invitational on March 14-15 at the Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City, Nev.
Kaylee Petersen recorded her 12th career top-10 finish to lead NSU to a fourth-place finish with a two-round total of 599 (297-302). Petersen landed three birdies on the day and shot a 3-over 74 to place tied for eighth overall with a 147.
Nina Lee and Yasmin Hang were tied for 13th place, shooting a 149. Lee was tied overall for the most pars with 26. Aitana Hernandez shot a 154 (76-78) and was tied for 18th, and Marybeth Bellnap was a stroke back (76-79) tied for 22nd overall.
Southwest Oklahoma State finished fifth, Oklahoma Baptist 10th, Redlands Community College 11th, Northwestern Oklahoma State 12th and Southern Nazarene 13th.