2004: College - Even without its coach, Rollins rolls

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Longwood, Fla.

With an understated confidence, Rollins College carved out a piece of NCAA Division II Women’s Championship history May 15. It was exactly the way coach Julie Garner would have counseled her charges. That is, of course, if she would have been allowed within 100 yards of them.

As it turned out, Garner’s NCAA-imposed exile gave the dominant team in Division II golf the only thing it may have been lacking – something to prove.

Sophomore Charlotte Campbell’s final-round 70 propelled the Tars to a closing 294 and 1,196 team total. The final line on Rollins was full of tournament records (single-round individual, single-round team and team total marks, respectively) and lifted the small liberal arts school from Winter Park, Fla., with the big-time talent to its second consecutive national crown.

“Today was personal,” said Campbell, who rallied from nine strokes back to win her second consecutive NCAA individual title. “It proves we can do it, with a coach or without one.”

Garner was not permitted to coach Rollins during the NCAA regionals or championship because of sanctions stemming from an 11th-hour rule.

This past summer, the NCAA Championship Committee passed legislation requiring Division II schools to play at least 25 percent of their competition against other Division II opponents within their regions, a problem for many schools because the season’s schedule is usually set in May. Garner contacted the NCAA, which urged her to “make a good faith effort to comply” and told her she could file for a waiver of the rule near the end of the year if the Tars were not in compliance. She made some changes to the schedule, but wasn’t able to reach the 25 percent mark and was suspended for the regionals and the NCAA finals.

“You don’t want me to be the story,” Garner said following her team’s 68-stroke victory over Florida Southern and Ferris (Mich.) State. “I don’t want this to detract from what they have done. The story is this unbelievable team.”

It was the Tars’ performance at The Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes that was unbelievable.

Rollins players occupied five of the top six spots on the final leaderboard. Florida Southern’s Pamela Feggans was the only exception, tying for third at 303 with Rollins sophomore Mariana De Biase.

The Tars, who entered the national championship on a three-tournament winning streak, started slowly with back-to-back rounds of 303 but by the time the third round was over they’d built a 44-stroke cushion and were all but guaranteed a return trip to the winner’s circle.

For the second consecutive year, the only question on the eve of the final round was who would take the individual medal.

Campbell, who finished at 11-over 299, edged Rollins senior Freddie Seeholzer for individual honors. Teammates Ulrika Ljungman and Sabrina Gassner rounded out the top six.

“It’s a great thing to be able to finish like that, especially when you’re that far ahead,” said Garner, moments after her team accepted the trophy. “They wanted to win convincingly and that’s what they did. This shows how good Division II golf can be.”

De Biase started the final day with a seven-stroke lead, made the turn in 40 and signed for her second worst score of the year (83). Campbell didn’t have a much better start (front-nine 38) but began her final nine holes of the season with a birdie at No. 11. She added three more birdies, including a clutch 12-footer at No. 18, to secure the individual title.

“This year I learned how to win,” said Campbell, who captured her last four tournaments of the season. “My goal this year was to win conference, regionals and nationals. I don’t know how I follow that.”

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