Tigers Fall Back at Final Day of NCAA Play

Columbus, Ohio--The Auburn women's golf team left its "A" game at home and finished out of the Top 10 at the NCAA Championships. The Tigers, who had won five of their last eight tournaments, hadn't finished lower than sixth place in any event prior to Friday.

Auburn, which came into the event ranked fourth nationally, finished well off the pace set by Duke in the four-day event at Ohio State University's Scarlet Course, which was remodeled just prior to the event.

Auburn, the SEC champs, finished at 1,208, which is 56 strokes over par, one shot behind UCLA. The Tigers were 12th as a team, one shot ahead of Tennessee and Stanford.

Sophomore Margaret Shirley makes a putt at The Scarlet Course. Duke won the team title.

On Friday in a round that included a nearly one hour rain delay, Abigale Schepperle and Nicole Hage led Auburn with rounds of three-over-par 75 while All-American senior Maria Martinez continued her struggles with a 77 that included five bogeys and no birdies.

Schepperle had two birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey. Hage, who turned at even par, finished with one double bogey, three bogeys and one birdie. She finished at plus nine 297 to lead the Tigers for the four days.

Jessica Lovell also shot a 77 to close the scoring so the Tigers didn't have to count a 79 from Margaret Shirley. Lovell had one double bogey, five bogeys and two birdies.

Martinez finished at 13-over-par 301 and was followed by Shirley at 307, Hage at 309 and Lovell at 315.

"I know this team will definitely work a lot harder next season for this tournament," Auburn coach Kim Evans said.

"Abigale Schepperle really had a breakthrough tournament and gained some confidence and proved to herself what I have known all along, that she can step out as a great player. This is a regrouping for next year to just get bigger and better."

Evans said she was disappointed that Martinez didn't have a better close to a stellar college season and career. Maria had an incredible year," Evans said, "It was a picture perfect year, actually. She had a tough time the last couple of events this season because she was pushing herself so hard. This course is such a difficult one, you can't do that. She is just trying to be the very best and this tournament cannot take away from her season and all of the wins we have had in which we followed on her shirttails."

The Tigers were in ninth place after day one, moved to seventh after day two and fell to 11th following round three after posting scores of 301, 298 and 305. On Friday, the moved back into the Top 10 halfway through their round, but fell back on the final holes.


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