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 LSU's par 72 University Club. VU's 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 Tennessee's Violeta Retamoza on the first playoff hole. It looked very much as though 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 play-off 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. We're showing everyone where our program is going-- we're going to win nationals one day!"
May Wood put herself into the lead Saturday with a school record-tying 67.
Freshman Chris Brady had a huge round Sunday 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 three-under par effort catapulted Brady into a fourth place tie on the leader board.
"Chris had her focus there from the start," Freitag noted. "She's 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 Svicarovich's 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 can't 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."
Vanderbilt is ranked No. 3 nationally by golfweek.com. Its next competition will come at the NCAA Regional Tournament May 6-8. The Commodores had already won the Kentucky and Arizona Invitationals and the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Classic this season.
Final Team Standings Vanderbilt 295-291-291--877 Auburn 292-295-294-881 LSU 299-293-289-881 Tennessee 296-292-294-882 Florida 302-290-293-885 Georgia 298-297-295-890 South Carolina 303-300-296-899 Ole Miss 315-295-295-905 Arkansas 297-308-304-909 Alabama 306-300-307-913 Mississippi St 306-309-308-923 Kentucky 315-309-305-929 Final Leaderboard *May Wood, Vanderbilt 73-67-73--213 Violeta Retamoza, Tennessee 69-73-71--213 Adrienne White, Ole Miss 76-70-70--216 Chris Brady, Vanderbilt 74-75-69--218 Jessica Shepley, Tennessee 73-70-75--218 Marian Martinez, Auburn 72-75-71--218 Aimee Cho, Florida 72-73-74--219 Nikki Haad, Ole Miss 77-69-73--219 Andrea Vander Lende, Florida 75-72-72--219 Camila Gonzalez, Florida 76-71-73--220 * won play-off Vanderbilt Scoring May Wood 73-67-73--213 Chris Brady 74-75-69--218 Courtney Wood 74-76-74--224 Kristen Svicarovich 76-76-75--227 Sarah Jacobs 74-73-80--227 Complete Information can be found on golfstat.com