LOXLEY, Ala. – The Troy women’s golf team won the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Championship as play concluded Wednesday at the Steelwood Country Club. Freshman Ftima Fernndez Cano won the individual title on the first playoff hole.
The title is the first conference championship in Troy’s Division I history, which dates back to 1993. The Trojans earn the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, which takes place May 8-10 at one of three regional locations.
“It’s a little too much to take in right now,” Barnes said. ”It’s not sunk in right now. I’m so proud of them and for them.
“(No.) 16 is a tough hole – a par 4 over water. We were able to make three birdies there. Once I saw that and we picked up another birdie on 17 from Becca Horner, I started to relax. I felt that gave us enough cushion.”
Troy finished six shots ahead of runner-up Texas State and 26 shots in front of third-place South Alabama. UALR finished in fourth place and 31 shots back of Troy while Georgia State rounded out the top five 39 shots off the pace.
Cano, who was the leader after day one, shot a 1-under in the final round, including a key birdie on No. 16 to tie her with Texas State’s Mara Puisite at the top of the leaderboard. In the playoff, Puisite’s tee shot went in the water, while Cano’s drive was straight down the No. 18 fairway. Cano would go on to par the hole to win the playoff and claim the individual title.
“Going into today, the goal was to play my best – to be patient and try to do my best,” she said. “It was a new day. I was trying to be the best I could be … take it shot by shot and hole by hole.”
Brooke Spinks, Becca Horner and Taylor McGraw all shot 3-over on the day. Spinks tied for third overall and was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Cano. She birdied the first hole of the day and shot par on 12 other holes.
The Trojans’ lineup consisted of a pair of freshmen – Cano and Horner – and three juniors – Spinks, McGraw and Langley Vannoy. Troy was the lone team in the field to have four players finish in the top 10 of the individual standings.
“I knew we had this caliber of team. We have taken a lead in some tournaments this spring, but we just haven’t finished,” Barnes said. “Each time we seemed to finish better, though.”
Horner finished strong as she birdied No. 16 and No. 17 and finished the back nine at 2-under. She opened with a 5-over on the front nine and finished in a tie for eighth place.
The Trojans got another strong finish from McGraw as she dropped in birdies on No. 15 and No. 16 after back-to-back bogeys on the previous two holes. She played the back nine at 1-over and the front nine 2-over to finish tied for ninth. Vannoy closed out the tournament in a tie for 24th place after shooting a 12-over.
1. Troy 293-307-296—896, 2. Texas State 300-306-296—902, 3. South Alabama 304-310-308—922, 4. UALR 304-319-304—927, 5. Georgia State 312-314-309—935, 6. ULM 316-302-324—942, 7. Arkansas State 318-314-323—955, 8. Western Kentucky 316-316-336—968
1. Ftima Fernndez Cano (Troy) 70-80-71—221, 2. Mara Puisite (Texas State) 73-78-70—221, T3. Brooke Spinks (Troy) 73-76-75—224, T3. Lejan Lewthwaite (Texas State) 73-78-70—221, T5. Sofia Berglund (UALR) 70-80-75—225, T5. Ashleigh Ryals (South Alabama) 73-75-77—225
1. Ftima Fernndez Cano 70-80-71—221, T3. Brooke Spinks 73-76-75—224, 8. Becca Horner 79-73-75—227, T9. Taylor McGraw 74-79-75—228, T24. Langley Vannoy 76-79-84—239