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Courtesy: USF
Bulls Capture First-Ever Big East Golf Crown

By TOM ZEBOLD

USF Senior Writer

TAMPA - The USF women's golf team is the 2012 Big East champion thanks to the Bulls having the mental toughness to finish the job Tuesday afternoon in Orlando.

The No. 49 Bulls went into the final round with a five-shot lead, trailed Notre Dame at one point and fired back to beat the Irish by a stroke in the Big East Championship at the Reunion Resort and Club in Orlando.

This marks the USF women's golf program's first-ever Big East title and the school's fourth Big East tournament title overall. The win gives the Bulls an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament field that will be announced on Monday.

"It was nerve-wracking," head coach Marci Kornegay said with a laugh after it was all over. "I try not to watch all the live scoring stuff until the end, but it was hard not to. You could see the emotion on the girls' faces. They knew the whole day that it was up and down. It was my job and (assistant coach) Janice Olivencia's job to make sure they maintained a sense of control and composure out there. "

USF clung to a two-shot lead heading into the final three holes of the event with Amy West and Notre Dame's Ashley Armstrong left on the course. West hung in there and allowed Armstrong, who won the individual title in a playoff, to only pick up one stroke before it was all over in regulation.

"That was a unique championship deal to experience that, especially this being our first Big East win in program history," Kornegay said.

Christina Miller fired her second straight 73 to finish in third place at 8 over and a stroke behind Armstrong and Lousville's Emily Haas. Miller, USF's top player, started the tournament with a 78 that didn't even count in the team's first-round scoring, but the sophomore finished strong with six birdies in the final two rounds.

"She's probably one of the most competitive players I've ever met.  She grinded it out," Kornegay said.

Miller was joined in the top 10 by teammates Kelli Pry (tie for sixth), Shena Yang (tie for eighth) and West in 10th place after the junior put together a strong push on the back nine. West had the confidence to withstand Armstrong's charge after making birdies on the 13th and 14th holes.

"She did an incredible job making the turn," Kornegay said. "To come back and have all those birdies on the back side was incredible. She maintained it and kept it together."

The Bulls that were truly nervous during the tournament's frantic finale were the ones waiting on the 18th hole.

"Everybody was just biting their nails trying to find out who beat who," Kornegay said. "They knew they weren't playing their best golf, but it was one of those things when you have to gut it out. It wasn't pretty, but just get the ball in the hole."

The Bulls' ability to come through in the clutch helped them join USF's 2007 women's tennis team, the 2008 men's soccer team and the 2009 men's tennis team as Big East tournament champions. USF has won Big East regular season titles in softball and men's soccer twice with the Bulls taking the Red Division this season.

 

Big East Championship Final Scores

Course: Reunion -- Watson Course: Par 72 - 6177 yards

current
position

team

scoring

rounds

total
score

to par

thru

today

1

2

3

1

49

USF

+46

F

+18

298

306

306

910

2

50

Notre Dame

+47

F

+14

296

313

302

911

3

 

Louisville

+54

F

+7

312

311

295

918

4

 

Seton Hall

+79

F

+24

314

317

312

943

5

 

Rutgers

+92

F

+33

311

324

321

956

6

 

St. John's

+96

F

+28

314

330

316

960

7

 

Cincinnati

+98

F

+32

315

327

320

962

8

 

Georgetown

+103

F

+36

319

324

324

967

USF Player Finishes

3

Christina Miller (1)

78

73

73

224 (+8)

T6

Kelli Pry (4)

73

79

76

228 (+12)

T8

Shena Yang (2)

74

78

77

229 (+13)

10

Amy West (3)

74

76

80

230 (+14)

T21

Anna Hancock (5)

77

80

82

239 (+23)




USF Women's Golf




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