ST. GEORGE, UTAH – Junior Emily Williams became the first Middle Tennessee golfer to qualify for the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Golf Championship as the Blue Raiders closed out their season Saturday afternoon at the St. George Regional.
After finishing 2-over on the day, Williams (79-71-73) landed in a six-way tie for 13th place at 10-over par 223, forcing a dramatic ending that included a sudden death playoff against four others vying for the final individual bid out of Utah.
Williams worked her way out of the bunker on hole 1 and saved par with a 15-foot putt to advance to the second playoff hole. Colorado’s Esther Lee and New Mexico State’s Kacey Dalpes also moved on, where all three managed par on hole 2.
Williams drove left of the fairway on hole 3, but she set up another par putt to leave the pressure on Lee and Dalpes who both missed par, lifting Williams to victory.
The junior from Lawrenceburg, Tennessee will compete in the NCAA Division I Championship on May 22-27 played in Bradenton, Florida at the Concession Golf Club.
As a team, No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee also ended up tied for 13th on the team leaderboard with 14th-seeded Wisconsin at 67-over par 919 (313-303-303). MT put up a final round of 303 for the second straight day to end the season on a positive note.
Along with Williams, Avery George also delivered a 2-over par 73 in the third round. George birdied 15 and 17 as she finished 15-over (77-78-73=228) and 34th on the player leaderboard.
Sophomore Samantha Gotcher and Junior Emily Miller tied for 68th overall at 22-over par 235. Gotcher carded a par on eight-of-nine holes over the front to finish with a 77 (+6) in the third round. Miller posted a round of 80 on the final day.
Playing her final tournament as a Blue Raider on graduation day, senior Allie Knightwrapped up her outstanding career tied for 79th (81-78-81=240) in the regional.
No. 1 overall seed USC had a dominating performance, never shooting a team total higher than 300. The Trojans won shooting 26-over-par. Stanford came in second place (+34), while Arkansas held steady in third (+40). The remaining top six teams advancing to the NCAA championships are UNLV, Virginia and California.
The individual champion was Dana Finkelstein from UNLV. She shot 67 in the third round to move up to first place (-2).
The top 10 individual finishers, regardless of how their team finished, will advance to the NCAA championships. Individual competitors Alivia Brown from Washington State and Meghan MacLaren from Florida International both moved up to the top 10 in the third round to keep their seasons alive.