No. 14 Vanderbilt overcame a late deficit in the final round to inch past a Mercer team that played tough throughout the three rounds at Forest Hills Golf Club.
The Commodores shot 32-over-par 896 over three rounds, beating the Bears by 10 strokes. Mercer charged to take the lead in the second round and held it as late as midway through the third, but Vanderbilt remained steady down the stretch.
“I don’t think our ladies came out quite prepared this morning, and (Mercer) put together a solid round,” Vanderbilt coach Greg Allen said. “By the time I collected cards and went around, I let them know where we stood and they needed to wake up a little. They responded well. I’m really proud of their effort down the stretch.”
The tournament was scheduled for three rounds of 18 holes each to end Sunday. The expected rain today moved the final round to Saturday, requiring 36 holes to finish.
Vanderbilt was led by a trio of players who finished sixth or better. Freshman Simin Feng placed third at 6-over, carding a final-round 73.
Kendall Martindale shot 7-over to tie for fourth, and Jenny Hahn tied for sixth at 8-over.
“Coach was having a huge impact on us. He was pushing us forward,” Feng said. “After I knew the scores, I pushed myself and wanted to play better.”
Mercer’s Lacey Fears won individually at 1-over for the tournament, shooting 73-70-74. Illinois’ Samantha Postillion battled with Fears over the first two rounds but fell off the pace down the stretch, placing second at 5-over.
Georgia Regents, the host team, finished sixth at 62-over, 30 strokes behind Vanderbilt. A second-round 299 had the Jaguars as high as fourth Saturday, but they fell back in the final round for their lowest finish in a tournament this year.
“Obviously, we didn’t play like we wanted to this week,” Georgia Regents coach Kory Thompson said. “Hopefully, it will push them to work harder for our next event. I hope that’s the spark to get them going so we’ll play better next week and get back to where we’re capable of being.”
Georgia Regents’ top scorer was freshman Eunice Yi, who finished tied for 15th at 12-over.
Vanderbilt held the lead after 299 on Friday, 10 strokes ahead of East Tennessee State.
A second-round 302 dropped Vanderbilt to second, as Mercer totaled a tournament-low 288 to take a one-shot lead. Vanderbilt turned it on when it needed to most, carding a final-round 295, the third-lowest team round in the tournament.