The record-setting season continues for the College of Charleston women’s golf team as it battled unseasonable weather conditions to capture the 2014 CAA Women’s Golf Championship on Sunday at The Reserve Club at St. James Plantation.
As the newest member of the Colonial Athletic Association and early favorite going into the tournament, the Cougars did not disappoint in living up to those expectations.
They carded a two-round score of 618 (+42) after a windy first round on Friday with an average score of 81.33 and a wet and soggy final round on Sunday with an average score of 84.09. Saturday’s second round was rained out for the first time in league history.
CofC won the team title by 15 strokes over William & Mary and Delaware, who tied for second at +57. UNCW was fourth (+58), James Madison fifth (+65), Towson sixth (+85), Dayton seventh (+94), Richmond eighth (+106) and Hofstra ninth (+110).
“Tough conditions and tough pins made for high scores this weekend,” said CofC Head Coach Jamie Futrell, who claimed his 19th career win in his 18 years at the helm of the women’s golf program. “We played well despite the conditions and won the tournament on Friday afternoon on the back nine.”
Freshman Laura Fuenfstueck (Frankfurt, Germany), who took home the individual CAA championship with a low score of 72-76—148 (+4), led the team’s run to the title – the Cougars’ first in their inaugural year as league members and only their second-ever conference title in program history.
They will return to the NCAA Division I Championship having last received an at-large bid as members of the Southern Conference in 2010. This will be the Cougars’ fifth all-time NCAA regional appearance next to 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
“Any time you win a championship, it’s a great feeling,” Futrell said. “I am very pleased with what we have accomplished this season. We had an opportunity to set a tradition as new members of the Colonial and this is our first step in that direction. It was very important to us to get off to a great start in this new conference. We were the favorite going in and sometimes there is a lot of pressure as the favorite. You can either relish being the favorite or it can be a burden. I thought we relished it this weekend.”
The average age of this year’s talented and young squad was 19.6. The 19-year-old Fuenfstueck, who became the first freshman to win the CAA title since the conference starting sponsoring the sport in 2002-03, along with sophomore Julia Neumann (Berlin, Germany), sophomore Mary Chandler Bryan (Chapin, S.C.), sophomore Louise Olsson (Uddeholm, Sweden) and sophomore Morgan Webber (Moore, S.C.). All combined to lead CofC to a school-record four tournament wins this season including the CAA title.
Neumann turned in the lowest round of the day with a 3-over par 75 to finish in a two-way tie for second with Lori Beth Adams of UNCW at +10. Bryan and Olsson both finished tied for 12th (+15) and Webber tied for 22nd (+21).
Fuenfstueck led the field with 31 pars followed by Neumann with the fourth most (22). Meanwhile, Olsson and Bryan tied for the most birdies (5) of the tournament. Fuenfstueck was named CAA Most Outstanding Performer and to the CAA All-Tournament Team along with Neumann.
“We survived today,” Futrell said. “Julia (Neumann) played awesome today with the lowest round which was a huge momentum boost for us. Laura (Fuenfstueck) had a great tournament, but our whole team fought this weekend. This group does a very good job of staying in the moment and not letting too much affect them. They don’t let things snowball and that’s what makes us good. It was a truly ‘gut check’ type of tournament for us and we were able to persevere through it all.”
This is the program’s second conference title behind the 2006 Southern Conference Championship title won by Gretchen Zoeller, Angie Hill, Jenn Bellso, Megan Miller and Julia vonRohrscheidt. Hill was the only other Cougar to win conference individual medalist honors (2006), before Fuenfstueck.
Fuenfstueck now owns the single-season record for tournament wins (3) which is tied for the second-most in school history behind four career tournament wins turned in by Angie Hill from 2004-06.
This year’s three NCAA Regional sites will be played on May 8-10 and hosted by Florida State (East Regional), Oklahoma State (Central Regional) and the University of Washington (West Regional). The Top 24 teams, eight from each regional site, will then compete for the team championship hosted by the University of Tulsa on May 20-23 at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
“Now, our focus is on regionals and we hope to recapture some of that magic we had earlier in the fall,” said Futrell, whose team was ranked as high as a program-best No. 26 back in September. “This is our youngest team to win a conference title which bodes well nicely for the future.”
The Cougars will learn their regional destination as the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship Selection Show will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel on Monday, April 28, at 6 p.m. (ET).