KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In a sudden death playoff, the University of Tennessee won the 2006 Mercedes-Benz Women's Collegiate Golf Championship title today at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville. Tennessee and Georgia were knotted at 887 after 54-holes to force the playoff at hole number one, a 386-yard par four. In the first team playoff in the 10-year history of the tournament, the Lady Vols won by two strokes.
'This is a huge win for us. We always invite a really strong field to come play in this tournament, and it's tough to win against such a strong field. I'm so proud of my team today,' said UT head coach Judi Pavon. 'We knew we were within range, and with the greens the way they are, we knew we had a chance if we played well. I'm really, really proud of our team for hanging in there and believing in themselves and then going out in that playoff. 'Georgia is the number one team in the country, so beating them is a tremendous lift for us.'
Freshman Angela Oh, who was leading the Lady Vols coming into day three, birdied the playoff hole (No. 1) to clinch the win for Tennessee. 'It was really a pressure putt,' Oh said. 'I just thought that if I couldn't get it in the hole, I needed to get it close because we still had a chance. But the ball went in the hole so I'm really happy. I just wanted to get off to a good start for the team on the first playoff hole.'
Georgia recorded three pars, but was one-over in the playoff, and finished with runner-up honors. Auburn, after leading the field through the first two rounds, finished third at 889.
Jenny Suh of Alabama claimed medalist honors with a pair of one-under 70s on the last two days after carding a 74 in round one. Her three-day total of 214 goes in the record books as a tie for the fifth-lowest score in the 10-year Mercedes-Benz history. The senior from Fairfax, Va., ended the weekend on a stellar note by making four birdies over the last five holes. Suh had nine birdies during the tournament. 'I'm a little surprised, I didn't expect it,' Suh said of the tournament victory. 'I knew I was four shots back. My putter came through when I really needed it. I wasn't hitting the ball very well at the beginning of the week, but gradually I got better and better. This is a very challenging course so you never know who would win this type of tournament.'
Oh was the Lady Vols' top finisher. She recorded a five-over-par 218 tournament total to put her in a tie for fifth with Michigan's Brianna Broderick and Arkansas' Stacy Lewis. The Maple Shade, N.J., native carded four birdies on the final day and 10 for the tournament.
UT junior standout Marci Turner finished with a 224 to tie for 19th. The 2005 All-America honoree shot a three-over-par 74 in the final round. Freshman Diana Cant shot 225, taking home 21st-place, her highest finish of the season by 16 spots.
Sophomore Nicole Smith battled back from a round-one 80 to a two-under-par 69 on day three, placing her 23rd. The Riverside, Calif., native finished the tournament strong with an eagle on No. 17 and a par on the difficult 18th. Smith's eagle and four birdies led the Lady Vols for the day. Playing in the Mercedes-Benz tournament for the final time, senior Holly Cantwell carded a two-over 74 to bring her total to 229, good enough for a tie for 33rd.
Tennessee's Mercedes-Benz victory was its first in the 10-year history of the event. The Lady Vols previously claimed second in 2004 and 2000.