March 25, 2007
Athens, GA -
Entering her final season at Virginia senior golfer Leah Wigger had two important goals. She wanted to see her team win a tournament and she wanted to place first at least once in an event. Sunday afternoon at Georgia's Liz Murphey Classic she was able to complete that list.
Wigger nailed a six-foot downhill birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Purdue's Maria Hernandez and take home medalist hours at the UGa Golf Course. Wigger shot even-par 71 during Sunday's final round to finish regulation tied with Hernandez at 2-over 215.
"I finally did it," said the Louisville native after carding runner-up finishes five times during her career, including the 2005 NCAA Championships. "It was very excited. It was finally nice to be the player to beat instead of chasing someone else."
Last fall Wigger and her teammates won the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington to claim the first team win in the program's four-year history.
"She has wanted to win a college tournament so bad, it was great to finally see it happen," said UVa coach Jan Mann. "She just played phenomenal all week. It was an extremely good field and a very tough golf course. They just redid the greens here and they were as tough as any we've ever played on. She stayed close to the leaders all week and had three really consistent days. She was really focused on her game this week and it paid off for her."
Wigger shot 1-over 72 on both Friday and Saturday and entered Sunday's round just one shot off the lead. Her finish helped UVa place sixth overall in the 18-team field that included 10 top-25 teams and 18 individuals ranked in Golfweek's top-50. Wigger was ranked 21st entering the tournament. She credited her patience and putting for the win.
"I think I averaged around 30 putts per round," Wigger said. "I only three-putted once the entire tournament. I've been waiting three years for this win, so I've developed a lot of patience over that time. Today, I was able to stay calm and relaxed and that really helped me."
Wigger had birdied the No. 1 hole at the start of her round, so she had a lot of confidence when she approached the tee at the start of the playoff.
"I knew if I had a good drive, and could get an iron in my hand, I would be able to get it in close," she said. "I had so much confidence in my putting, I felt if I could just get the ball on the green, I would make the putt."
Auburn, ranked fourth, won the tournament by 11 shots with a 54-hole total of 881. Florida was second at 892 followed by Arkansas (897), Alabama (898) and Purdue (902). Virginia was sixth at 902 after shooting 306, its high score for the weekend, on Sunday.
The Cavaliers were shorthanded during their final round when sophomore Jennie Arseneault could not compete due to illness. She was in 20th place after the second round.
Whitney Neuhauser was UVa's second finisher. She placed 33rd with a career-best score of 228. She tied her best single-round score with a 3-over 74 Sunday. Rachel Smith was 54th at 234 and Carly Truitt was 71st at 240.
"Our girls played hard, but faltered a little bit at the end," Mann said. "Still, this was a great event for us. Jennie will be back and I think we got back on track this weekend."
Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic
University of Georgia Golf Course
1. Auburn 293-299-289-881
2. Florida 300-298-294-892
3. Arkansas 300-297-300-897
4. Alabama 302-301-295-898
5. Purdue 304-299-299-902
6. Virginia 303-296-306-905
7. Wake Forest 307-292-307-906
8. Georgia 303-300-304-907
9. South Carolina 302-300-307-909
10. Florida State 312-302-296-910
11. Louisiana State 301-306-304-911
12. Michigan State 297-310-309-916
13. Central Florida 319-308-300-927
13. Kent State 314-310-303-927
15. Mississippi State 314-315-304-933
16. Furman 312-314-311-937
17. Georgia State 331-312-317-960
18. Augusta State 314-325-326-965
1. Leah Wigger, Virginia* 72-72-71-215
1. Maria Hernandez, Purdue 72-73-70-215
3. Sandra Gal, Florida 74-73-69-216
3. Caroline Westrup, Florida State 72-73-71-216
5. Jenna Pearson, South Carolina 74-71-73-218
6. Helena Blomberg, Alabama 74-71-74-219
6. Sara Brown, Michigan State 71-77-71-219
6. Melissa Eaton, LSU 70-73-76-219
6. Margaret Shirley, Auburn 71-76-72-219
10. Nicole Hage, Auburn 73-75-72-220
10. Stacy Lewis, Arkansas 74-74-72-220
* Won playoff for medalist honors.
2. Leah Wigger 72-72-71-215
33. Whitney Neuhauser 78-76-74-228
54. Rachel Smith 78-74-82-234
71. Carly Truitt 81-80-79-240
-- Jennie Arseneault