The Coastal Carolina women’s golf team entered the final round of the Big South tournament Wednesday just two strokes back of leader Campbell, with its top three golfers all within the top eight individually and with a return ticket to the NCAA regionals well within its reach.
It just wasn’t the Chanticleers’ day, though.
Campbell won the Big South championship with a 54-hole score of 30-over 894 (296-293-305), while Coastal Carolina struggled with windy conditions at DeBordieu Club to finish with a 40-over 904 (294-297-313).
Campbell’s Nadine White was the individual medalist with a 3-over 219 while Chants sophomore Malene Krolboll Hansen tied for third at 8-over 224 (77-72-75) and seniors Bailey Cocca (72-73-81) and Lena Schaeffner (71-74-81) – the defending Big South champion – finished in a three-way tie for fifth after tough final rounds.
“I have no idea,” Chanticleers coach Katie Quinney said of the team’s struggles Wednesday. “We got off to a rocky start and then kind of in the five or six holes in the middle got it back together, got it close again and then just made some huge mistakes coming in. The wind obviously is going to expose anything so that didn't help.”
Coastal Carolina was looking to repeat as conference champion and clinch its spot in the NCAA regionals for a second year in a row. Instead, the Chants now have to wait and hope their season resume is enough to earn an at-large berth after entering the day ranked No. 56 in GolfStat.com’s collegiate rankings.
I think that’s the hard part about (Wednesday’s tough day on the golf course). I think there’s a lot of teams in the top 25 or 30 that would be scared of us when we play our game and play good and God forbid play our best. So if we’re lucky enough to make it in, I would be less surprised if we made nationals than I am that this just happened.
Coastal Carolina women’s golf coach Katie Quinney
Quinney said the Chants may have been pressing a little bit Wednesday, knowing what was at stake.
“I think it was kind of a collective pressure that everyone was putting on themselves,” she said. “We’re kind of a bubble number as far as regionals is concerned as a team. We’re a very talented squad that underachieved a little in the fall and finally started getting it in the right direction in the spring, so I think Lena, Malene and Bailey as two seniors and Malene having the lowest scoring average, they definitely put the most weight on themselves knowing that this is a big week for us. And Lena, obviously, anytime you think you might be playing your last 54 holes, that’s not easy.”
Schaeffner has had a decorated collegiate career and last season followed her Big South championship with a second-place regional finish to become the first golfer in program history to advance to the NCAA national championships as an individual.
She and Cocca both entered the day two strokes off White’s lead, but Schaeffner found trouble early while starting with three straight bogies and then a double bogey on the par-3 fourth hole after putting her tee shot in the water.
“I felt good on the range, I got on the first tee and made a good drive and I felt good about it, and then I kind of had a little issues at the beginning to find myself and get into the round and I had a little trouble estimating what the wind was going to do,” Schaeffner said.
“... I kind of lost my comfort a little bit, and then on four I hit it in the water and that’s when it hit me a little bit, and then it was just real hard for me to fight back into the game and focus on hitting one shot at a time. I guess I was trying just really hard to get it back.”
Along with Hansen’s 75, Cocca’s 81 and Schaeffner’s 81, freshman Marie Lunackova rounded out the Chants’ scoring with a 76.
Coastal Carolina’s three veteran golfers all were named to the all-conference team while Lunackova was named the Big South’s Freshman of the Year.
Now the Chants wait and hope to catch some breaks elsewhere as conference tournaments play out around the country. They'll learn their postseason fate on April 25.
“We have to put a lot of faith in the teams that we’ve had winning records on playing really good and the teams that we have losing records on ... we kind of need everyone to do what we need them to do in their conferences and hope that we maybe stay exactly where we are,” Quinney said. “I’d like to think that we’re as much as a 30 or 40-percent chance, but it would have been nice to take care of it ourselves.”
If the Chants do get into the NCAA regionals, though, she remains as confident as ever that they have the talent to make a run.
“I think that’s the hard part about a day like today,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of teams in the top 25 or 30 that would be scared of us when we play our game and play good and God forbid play our best. So if we’re lucky enough to make it in, I would be less surprised if we made nationals than I am that this just happened.”
Big South Women’s Championship
Campbell 296-293-305 – 894 (+30)
Coastal Carolina 294-297-313 – 904 (+40)
Charleston Southern 302-301-313 – 916 (+52)
Winthrop 310-299-319 – 928 (+64)
Gardner-Webb 313-310-337 – 960 (+96)
Longwood 323-321-317 – 961 (+97)
Presbyterian 323-311-336 – 970 (+106)
Radford 325-317-341 – 983 (+119)
High Point 329-318-337 – 984 (+120)