East: Final NCAA berths decided in playoffs

East: Final NCAA berths decided in playoffs

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East: Final NCAA berths decided in playoffs

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Marina Alex missed a 5-foot birdie putt on her last hole (No. 9) that would’ve kept Vanderbilt out of a late-afternoon playoff for the eighth spot at the NCAA East Regional. She had a chance make up for it, however, knocking in a 4-foot par putt to give Vanderbilt the win over Florida State.

“She was kickin’ herself,” said Vandy coach Greg Allen, who promised his team he would shave his head if they advanced. “A little redemption for her.”

Senior Megan Grehan gave Vanderbilt an early advantage over the ’Noles, pouring in a birdie putt on the first playoff hole, No. 1, at LPGA International’s Legends Course.

“It’s hard,” said FSU coach Amy Bond. “I’ve never been in a playoff before, and most people haven’t.” Florida State’s Jessica Negron did advance as an individual.

Both teams waited 5 1/2 hours to learn their NCAA fate. FSU went off-site for lunch and Bond tried to get the team refocused. Vanderbilt ate in the clubhouse and then sat in the team van listening to music.

“Our theme this week has been ‘Bulletproof,’ ” Allen said. “We found this bulletproof song and listened to it about 35 times.”

The Commodores wore the logo from their Mason Rudolph tournament in memory of the Tennessee golf legend, who died last month at age 76. Rudolph, a former Ryder Cupper, spoke to Alex last year right before she won the SEC Championship, her first college golf victory.

“His spirit was with us for sure,” Allen said.

•••

Michigan State sophomore Caroline Powers earned the second individual spot in the NCAA Championship after beating Florida State’s Maria Salinas on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. Powers got up and down for par from the left side of No. 1 green. She made a quadruple bogey on her last hole of regulation to fall into the playoff, then waited three and a half hours. “I’m really disappointed that it’s just me,” said Powers, “but just have to represent the school and try to win.”

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