Oct. 29, 2006
Wilmington, NC -
A wild ending and a favorable tiebreaker earned the ninth-ranked Virginia women's golf team its first-ever tournament title. The Cavaliers took top honors at UNC Wilmington's Landfall Tradition after finishing the 54-hole event tied with Michigan State at 902. The Cavaliers shot 306 during the final round while the Spartans turned in a score of 295.
With the top four individual scores accounting for the team's 18-hole total, the tie was broken by the better score between the team's number-five finisher in the final round. Virginia freshman Whitney Neuhauser shot 80 Sunday, which was one stroke better than Michigan State's Heather Rose.
Virginia entered Sunday's final round with an 11-shot lead over Michigan State, but that was gone by the time the two teams, playing together, made the turn at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington. The Cavaliers were 9-over after the first nine holes while the Spartans were 3-under with three players shooting below par.
"I joked to everyone at the awards presentation that because of the time change last night, we didn't show up to play this morning," said UVa coach Jan Mann, who help found the Landfall Tradition tournament while the head coach at UNC Wilmington. "We just didn't play well in the beginning and Michigan State was awesome."
As the teams made their way through the final nine holes, the Spartans proceeded to widen their lead. Thanks to a pair of birdies on No. 11 and No. 13 by MSU's Laura Kueny, the Cavaliers trailed by four strokes heading into the home stretch.
Over the final four holes, the Spartans shot 8-over while the Cavaliers managed the same stretch at just 4-over. The outcome came down to the final pairing which featured Virginia senior Leah Wigger and Michigan State's Sara Brown.
On the No. 18 hole, Wigger topped her tee shot, resulting in a 100-yard drive. She then had to lay up and three-putted to finish with a double-bogey six. Brown bogeyed the hole.
"I would have never dreamed that we would win our first tournament because I three-putted the final hole," said Wigger who entered the tournament ranked seventh nationally in Golfweek's individual standings. "That last putt was down hill and about two-and-a-half feet and there were foot marks all over the green and I didn't trust the line. Thankfully it went in."
"That was not a gimmie by any stretch," Mann said. "That was pretty clutch. Leah didn't have her best day, but when it came down to it, she helped us win."
The Cavaliers were led during the final round by Jennie Arseneault's 72. She finished sixth overall at 9-over 225, her third consecutive top-10 finish. Wigger was eighth at 226 to increase her school record for top-10 finishes to 20. Lauren Mielbrecht and Rachel Smith tied for 14th at 230 while Neuhauser was 24th at 233.
The victory has been a long time coming for the four-year-old Cavalier program that has recorded several runner-up finishes, including their last outing at the Lady Tar Heel Invitational.
"It was a great win," Mann said. "Our kids knew they were down, but they did a great job of hanging in there. Hopefully, from this point on, the wins will come a little easier. Getting the first one was really important."
Mann said the victory at the tournament she helped to start had special meaning.
"I had a lot of friends and family watching today, so it did have some extra meaning," said Mann who coached for eight seasons at UNCW. "It was a real roller coaster, but we'll take it. We'll take it."
Michigan State's Brown took medalist honors at 1-under 215. She had rounds of 74, 69 and 72. Wake Forest's Mandy Goins was second at 219 while New Mexico's Mikaela Backsted and Michigan's Brianna Broderick tied for third at 222.
The tournament was Virginia's final match of the fall season. The Cavaliers open spring play Feb. 26 at Arizona's Wildcat Invitational.
The Landfall Tradition
The Country Club of Landfall
Par-72, 6,115 yards
1. Virginia 301-295-306-902
1. Michigan State 305-302-295-902
3. New Mexico 309-302-293-904
4. Wake Forest 310-312-292-915
5. Michigan 300-315-302-917
6. Ohio State 305-310-305-920
7. NC State 317-315-308-940
8. South Florida 315-324-305-944
9. UNC Greensboro 320-324-308-952
10. UNC Wilmington 326-330-307-963
10. Tulsa 318-329-316-963
12. Penn State 316-327-324-967
1. Sara Brown, Michigan State 74-69-72-215
2. Mandy Goins, Wake Forest 77-72-70-219
3. Mikaela Backstedt, New Mexico 77-73-72-222
3. Brianna Broderick, Michigan 72-76-74-222
5. Dana Je, Ohio State 72-79-72-223
6. Jennie Arseneault, Virgina 72-81-72-225
6. Giselle Claux, New Mexico 75-75-75-225
8. Leah Wigger, Virginia 75-72-79-226
8. Laura Kueny, Michigan State 77-75-74-226
8. Carmen Perez-Narbon, UNCW 77-79-70-226
8. Ali Stinson, Michigan 77-76-73-226
6. Jennie Arseneault 72-81-72-225
8. Leah Wigger 75-72-79-226
14. Lauren Mielbrecht 75-77-78-230
14. Rachel Smith 81-72-77-230
24. Whitney Neuhauser 79-74-80-233