BATON ROUGE, La. -- Vanderbilt womens golf program won its first Southeastern Conference Championship Sunday and May Wood was crowned the individual champion after winning a sudden death playoff.
The Commodores beat Auburn and host LSU by four shots to claim their school record fourth tournament championship of the year. Vanderbilt finished 13-over par over the 54 holes on LSUs par 72 University Club. VUs previous best finish in the SEC Championship had been a fourth place effort in 2002.
It is an awesome feeling to actually win the championship, said an elated Coach Martha Freitag. Just to be able to watch how the program has developed over the last few years and seeing the kids play so well 'it has just been a blast.
Now we know they are one of the teams people will have to beat, Freitag continues.
We have played well all year and know we can win. All of our preparation has been to play our best golf and perhaps the good news is that we still have not played our best.
May Wood beat Tennessees Violeta Retamoza on the first playoff hole. It looked very much like the Chattanooga sophomore would win the title in regulation play but she fell into a tie by double-bogeying the 18th hole after taking an unplayable lie.
The playoff began and ended on No. 10.
I was upset after No. 18 but my teammates did an incredible job of calming me down,
Wood said afterwards. I went to the practice green to hit a few putts and I just decided there that I was going to win.
My goal was to put myself into a position for a birdie in the play-off and I had an easy wedge to about 12-feet of the pin, Wood continued. My putt just missed the edge of the cup but the par was good enough to win.
It was certainly nice to win but it was not my best golf, Wood admitted. The team victory feels great. Were showing everyone where our program is going -- were going to win nationals one day!
May Wood put herself into the lead Saturday with a school record equaling 67.
Freshman Chris Brady had a huge round for Vanderbilt. The freshman from North Carolina had birdies on No. 2, 5, 8 and 15 before a bogey on the par-5 18th left her with a sparkling 69. The 3 under par effort catapulted Brady into a fourth place tie on the leader board.
Chris had her focus there from the start, Freitag noted. Shes very competitive and she had that look in her eyes like she did at Texas (where she won the title).
Vanderbilt also had scoring performances from senior Sarah Jacobs and freshman Kristen Svicarovich. Courtney Wood had her best round of the tournament - a 74 - while Svicarovichs 75 was important as the usual steady Sarah Jacobs struggled to an 80.
Kristen did a great job for us, grinding out a 75 and Chris played fantastic, Freitag said. Courtney was solid and everyone handled the pressure situations very well.
Courtney Wood overcame a double bogey on No. 2 with a pair of birdies while Svicarovich had two bogeys on each side against a birdie on No. 8.
I cant describe the feeling., said Jacobs, one of two seniors on the team. Four years ago this program was not in a position to win the SEC. To finally accomplish one of our main goals is amazing. I was anxious coming into this tournament knowing it was my last chance to be part of an SEC Championship team. I knew the program was going to win one day; I just wanted to be a part of it.
Final Team Standings
South Carolina 303-300-296-899
Ole Miss 315-295-295-905
Mississippi St 306-309-308-923