MIAMI. -- Illinois held on to its first-round lead during the final round to capture the team title at the Golden Panther Women's Championship, hosted by Florida International University at the par 71, 6,003-yard Doral Resort Silver Course in Miami.
Illinois shot a score of 324 to give the team a 36-hole total score of 633. The Illini finished 12 strokes better than North Carolina-Greensboro, who placed second with a score of 646. Georgia State placed third at 653, 20 strokes behind the victorious Illini. The win marks the first tournament title of the 2002-03 season for the Illini and the first for the program since it won the Illini Spring Classic last season.
Leading the way for Illoinois was senior Laurin Kanda, who captured runner-up honors at 13-over par. Kanda finished second in the 80-player field after carding rounds of 77 and 78 for a total score of 155. She just missed winning the individual title, finishing one stroke behind Florida International's Courtney Burdick, who captured medalist honors with a score of 154. Kanda's second-place finish ties her career-best as an Illini, dating back to her freshman season in the fall of 1999 when she tied for second at the Wolverine Invitational.
'As a team we're very excited to come away with the win,' Kanda said. 'We played really well yesterday and although our scores weren't as low today, we held on and won and it's really exciting to start the spring season by winning our first tournament.
'As for myself, it's hard not to be a little disappointed with missing first place by one stroke, because I can look back and think of how one shot or one putt here or there would have made the difference,' Kanda added. 'But runner-up is still a great honor and definitely gives me confidence heading into our upcoming tournaments.'
Three Illini golfers in all finished in the top 10 in the individual standings. Junior Michelle Carroll tied for fourth with a score of 15-over par 157. The fourth place performance by Carroll marks the highest finish of her collegiate career. Senior Renata Young placed seventh at 16-over par (158) to join Kanda and Carroll in the Top 10.
Illinois takes a two-week break and is next in action Feb. 24-25 at the Central District Challenge in Parrish, Fla.
Golden Panther Women's Championship Final Team Standings
1. Illinois 309-324=633
2. North Carolina-Greensboro 334-312=646
3. Georgia State 334-319=653
4. Florida Atlantic 337-319=656
T5. Middle Tennessee State 334-324=658
T5. Florida International 334-324=658
T7. Southwest Texas State 330-332=662
T7. Bethune-Cookman 331-331=662
T9. Barry 343-331=674
T9. Daytona Beach CC 345-329=674
11. Lynn 357-332=689
12. The Citadel 360-334=694
T13. Northwood 357-341=698
T13. Southern Illinois 353-345=698
15. Nova Southeastern 355-350=705
Illinois Individual Results
2. Laurin Kanda 77-78=155 +13
T4. Michelle Carroll 78-79=157 +15
7. Renata Young 76-82=158 +16
T16. Stephanie Cheney 78-85=163 +21
T40. Megan Godfrey (Ind.) 86-84=170 +28
T47. Marla Cox 83-91=174 +32