SANDESTIN, Fla. – It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
Methodist University overcame an eight-shot deficit in the final-round of the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational to win by six strokes over Mary Hardin-Baylor at Baytowne Golf Club at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort. Methodist’s 299 final-round team total was the best of the tournament and the only team score lower than 300 on Tuesday.
“It was amazing, just amazing,” said Methodist head coach Tom Inczauskis. “It was a tremendous comeback for them. It will make our eleven-hour trip home much, much better.”
Leading the charge and finishing as co-medalist was junior Loretta Giovannettone with a three-day total of 9-over 225 for her first collegiate victory. Mary Hardin-Baylor sophomore Taylor O’Rear shot a third-round 76 to tie with Giovannettone.
“We all knew after the first round that we all played pretty bad, and knew we could come back from it,” said Giovannettone. “We always says it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon until the last day.”
Four out of five Methodist players finished in the top 10. Senior Jenny Sullivan finished in solo fourth at 228. Andrea Daly had the low team score of the day with an even-par 71, and finished in eighth. Junior Kelsie Carralero finished in ninth with a three-day total of 236. And junior Taylor Dominguez finished T-29.
“We always say play five, count five even though the NCAA only counts four scores, all five players have to compete,” said Giovannettone.
The 18th hole played a huge role for the Methodist women during the final round. While the Monarchs went a collective 1 under on No. 18, second-round leader Mary Hardin-Baylor went 5 over.
Washington University-St. Louis finished third as freshman Connie Zhou finished third individually. Illinois Wesleyan was fourth, finishing with a three-day total of 965. Centre College was fifth, another two strokes behind Illinois Wesleyan.
Methodist sprinted on the last day, just in time to win the marathon.
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Senior Dennis Granath shot a 1-under 70 at The Raven Golf Course at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort on Tuesday to lead St. John’s (Minn.) to the team title in the men’s division. It came down to the final six holes, but St. John’s came out one stroke better than LaGrange College.
“Actually, we kind of got off to a bad start, but we hung in there, and pulled it off in the end,” said Granath.
Junior Casey Vangsness had his team’s second-best score of the day with a 1-over 72, and finished in a tie for third for a three-day total of 214. Sophomore Drew Lynch finished tied for sixth at 216. Granath finished T-18 with a three-day total of 219. Junior Tommy Koehler finished at 229, which was good for T-50. Sophomore Derek Brinker placed T-58 for a three-day total of 231.
Cory Howard of LaGrange won medalist honors for the first time in his career. Another solid 3-under 68 by the sophomore allowed him to run away with the title.
“This first win of mine feels great,” said Howard. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t win the team title, but in the end, hopefully there are many more of these to come.”
Oglethorpe finished third with a three-day total of 879. First- and second-round leader Methodist struggled to a 304 third-round total for an overall fourth-place finish. Texas at Tyler rounded out the top 5 with an 886.
St. John Fisher College went 14 under through nine holes in the third-round. Junior Thad Wier shot a tournament-best 4-under 67 to lead his team to a tournament-best team score of 3-under 281.
“My score and the team score both feel amazing,” said Wier. “It just shows that we can play on a national level.”
St. John Fisher finished in eighth.