Florida State women rally around each other at Shoal Creek regional

Florida State's Matilda Castren
Florida State's Matilda Castren (Florida State Athletics)

Shoal Creek, Ala. – A devastating car crash that killed four University of Georgia students hit painfully close to home for the women’s golf team at Florida State. Kayla Jones, a sophomore from Milton, Ga., and staple in the Seminole lineup, knew all four women killed on April 27 in that horrific crash on the Ga. 15. One of them, Christina Semeria, was her best friend.

Jones went home to Georgia for the funeral on Monday and called her coach, Amy Bond, late that night in hysterics. On Tuesday, two days before NCAA regionals began, Bond made the difficult decision of pulling Jones from the tournament roster.

“There’s no right answer,” Bond said.

Kayla Jones
Kayla Jones / Florida State Athletics

Protecting Jones was the No. 1 priority for Bond. And while Jones could’ve come to Shoal Creek and played outstanding golf, Bond had to think about the possibility of the opposite happening. Piling on to an already unthinkably difficult time.

“We have to do what’s best for our player,” said Bond. “And what’s best for her was to be at home.”

And so Bond called on another player named Kayla to fill Jones’ shoes. Kayla Bloor, who graduated last weekend and plans to continue her studies and play golf at Southern Mississippi next year (Bloor has two years of eligibility left), teed it up as a member of the starting five at Shoal Creek for only the second time this season.

“I got it coach,” Bloor told Bond.

FSU, seeded sixth, rose to the occassion and sits in second place after Round 1, three strokes behind Northwestern. The Seminoles haven’t advanced out of regional action since 2010.

“We really, really want it,” said junior Matilda Castren, whose 72.61 career scoring average is the best in school history.

The ’Noles capitalized on the par 5s Thursday, playing the sixth hole in 3 under. Swiss sisters Kim and Morgane Metraux shot 73, 74, respectively. Castren also posted a 74 while Lydia Gumm shot 78.

“Every time I turned around, someone was making a putt,” Bond said. “With women’s golf, it’s a little bit of momentum.”

While Bloor’s 82 didn’t count, Bond told her walking down the 16th hole: “I just want one.”

More for Bloor’s satisfaction of having contributed a score than anything else, Bond said.

One of Bond’s assistant coaches, presumably the Brit, Robert Duck, referred to Shoal Creek as a “proper golf course.” It’s certainly a test, and in 2018, Shoal Creek will host the U.S. Women’s Open.

Swirling wind in Round 1 led to high scores for the field. Only two teams broke 300 and only one player – Vanderbilt’s Jennifer Hahn – broke par.

Six teams will advance to the NCAA Championship after 54 holes, and while FSU sits pretty in second, there’s a slew of teams bunched up behind them.

Bond has encouraged Jones to make the drive from Milton to Shoal Creek to watch her teammates.

“I think you’ll see her,” Bond said.

And they’ll rally around each other, like friends do, helping to mend a broken heart.

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