BROWNS SUMMIT, N.C. --- In its final tune-up prior to the post-season, the No. 6-ranked Georgia women's golf team and freshman Taylor Leon swept the team and individual titles at the Bryan National Collegiate here on Sunday.
The Bulldogs fired a 4-under 284, their best score of the season, to pull away from top-ranked Duke in the final round. Georgia finished 54 holes of play at 11-over 875, five shots better than the Blue Devils. No. 8 Purdue (885), No. 13 Tennessee (890) and No. 11 Wake Forest (899) rounded out the top-five teams.
'Obviously, we played really well today,' head coach Todd McCorkle said. 'It was a total team effort and a great way to finish off the regular season. I couldn't be prouder of the girls. We're definitely riding a wave of momentum heading into the post-season.'
Leon entered the final round tied atop the leaderboard but secured the victory by carding a 3-under 69 on Sunday. That left her at 3-under 213, three shots better than Duke's Amanda Blumenherst. Georgia's Mallory Hetzel finished tied for third at 1-over 217.
In addition, the Bulldogs counted a 1-under 71 from Alina Lee and a pair of 72s from Hetzel and Whitney Wade. Jackie Beers posted a 79. Overall, Wade tied for 16th at 223, Lee tied for 24th at 225 and Beers tied for 38th at 229.
Leon almost won the individual title last week's Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens. She was atop the leaderboard before a disastrous 9 on the par-3 16th pushed her 10th in the final standings.
'I think Taylor's round today says a lot about her competitiveness and desire to win,' McCorkle said. 'She came so close last week in Athens. She was really able to persevere today, and I couldn't be happier for her.'
Leon, a freshman, bogeyed the first hole of the day but then posted birdies at No. 8, No. 11, No. 12 and No. 14 to secure the first individual title of her collegiate career. She is certainly no stranger to individual success, however, earning AJGA All-America recognition three times as a junior golfer and already qualifying for the U.S. Open twice.
'This is right up there with qualifying for those U.S. Opens,' Leon said. 'It ranks up there among my best accomplishments in golf and it means a lot to me. I knew I had to play well today. I knew Amanda was going to play well. I just tried to take it hole-by-hole and shot-by-shot and play consistent. I played pretty good last weekend so I came into this weekend with the confidence that I could be successful.'
The victories came against what last week McCorkle called the toughest field his team would face during the regular season. All told, half of the nation's top-20 teams competed in this year's Bryan National.
Georgia has now won its last two tournaments and three overall during the 2005-06 season. Leon's title was the Bulldogs' first individual crown of the campaign.
Georgia will return to action in two weeks at the SEC Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Course in Franklin, Tenn. The Bulldogs finished second (three strokes behind Duke) at the Mason Rudolph Championship on the same course last fall. The Bulldogs have captured a league-best 10 SEC team titles, while Georgia golfers have won the SEC individual title on six occasions.