KIAWAH ISLAND, SC – Abbey Williams and Ashley Zagers each shot a five-over par 77 on Saturday, and Amanda Gartrell had a 79, putting all three Moccasins in the individual top-10, and leading Florida Southern to a first-place tie halfway through the Barton Invitational.
Playing in their first tournament of the spring after an earlier dual match against the University of Kentucky, the Moccasins also got an 80 from Tori Higgins and an 87 from Madison Wetzel. That gave them a team score of 313, tying them for the tournament lead with Wingate (NC), and putting them four shots ahead of third-place Tusculum (TN). The Mocs also had a five-shot lead over UNC Pembroke, and an 11-shot advantage over Limestone (SC). Florida Southern is the only team from the Sunshine State Conference playing in the Barton Invitational, which gives the Mocs a chance to face some of the region's top teams from the Peach Belt, South Atlantic, and Conference Carolinas.
The 77 by Williams included an eagle on the par-4, 320-yard No. 16 hole. The senior made a big recovery for the Moccasins after going four-over on her first two holes before playing one-over the rest of the day. She closed with a flourish, not only getting the eagle on 16 but adding a birdie on 17 and a par on 18.
Zagers led the Moccasins with three birdies and was tied for second in the tournament in that category, spreading those out on 2, 8, and 12. She finished the day at -1 for the final six holes. She was one of only four golfers in the field of 80 to birdie the par-5, 510-yard No. 12, which along with No. 1, was the longest on the course at Oak Point Golf Club.
While Williams and Zagers were tied for fourth, Gartrell was tied for 10th with her seven-over par 79. Though she did not record a birdie, Gartrell was tied for the tournament lead with Limestone's Reme Cortes with 13 pars.
One shot behind Gartrell and tied for 15th was Higgins with an 80. She was the team's second-leading scorer on the back nine with a +2, two strokes behind Williams. Wetzel was not a counter on Saturday, but also saw improvement over the second half of round one, three strokes better than she shot before making the turn.
Florida Southern's four counters were +10 on the back nine, while Wingate's four were at +14. That allowed the Moccasins to make up an early deficit and catch the Bulldogs at the end of the day. The Bulldogs counted scores of 76, 77, and two 80s. Florida Southern and Tusculum were the only teams in the field of 16 to have three counters in the 70s.
At the top of the player's leaderboard was Madison Corley from UNC Pembroke. Corley was the only golfer to break par Saturday with a two-under 70. The next closest golfer was Cortes from Limestone with a 75. Diana McDonald of Wingate was third with a 76 before Williams and Zagers were among six golfers tied for fourth place with 77s.
The final round of the Barton Invitational is scheduled to begin Sunday morning at 8 a.m.