Women's Golf Starts Season with Runner-up Finish at Lady Falcon Invitational

Shelby Lewis
Shelby Lewis

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – For the second day in a row, Tori Higgins had Florida Southern's best score of the round, and along with Loren Perez gave the Moccasins two of the top-10 golfers in the field for a runner-up team finish in the season-opening Lady Falcon Invitational. It's the sixth time in the last 10 years Florida Southern has either won the Lady Falcon Invitational or finished second.

The Moccasins not only had Higgins and Perez in the top-10, they had two others just one shot behind that line. Junior Amanda Gartrell and sophomore Shelby Lewis, who was playing as an individual, gave Florida Southern four of the top-15 golfers in the tournament, the most for any team.

Ranked No. 5 in the country, Florida Southern had rounds of 307, 308, and 309 to tie host Daytona State for second in a tournament that had been just two rounds the last nine years. The Moccasins and Falcons finished seven shots behind Seminole State, which used an opening-round 299 on Friday to take control. The Raiders never lost the lead, but it remained close throughout, and Daytona State had the best scores in rounds two and three, with the Moccasins not far behind them.

Bethune-Cookman, one of two Division I teams in the tournament, finished fourth and was 16 shots behind Seminole State. Lynn, which is ranked No. 7 in the Division II preseason poll, rounded out the top-five teams but was 27 back. Florida Tech and Embry-Riddle also competed from the Sunshine State Conference, with the Panthers seventh and the Eagles eighth.

Higgins was among the contenders for the second year in a row at the Lady Falcon Invitational. The senior tied for fourth place with 228 (81-72-75) after tying for 10th as a sophomore and finishing as runner-up last year. Worapitcha Anudit of Seminole State ran away with the individual crown by shooting a tournament-record eight-under par 208. She had rounds of 69, 72, and 67 to win by six strokes over Hollie Muse of Daytona State, who finished at two-under par 214 (75-69-70). Florida Tech's Megan Dennis was third with a 224, which was 16 strokes behind Anudit.

Higgins had her sixth top-10 finish in the last two-plus seasons while Perez started her career with a top-10 by moving up five spots on the final day of the tournament. She had had a pair of 76s sandwiched around an 80 on Saturday, which tied her for 10th place in the final standings with a 232. She was especially strong on the back nine Sunday with only a single bogey on 17 that gave her a one-over par 37 during that stretch. That was one stroke better than Higgins and freshman Nathalie Svensson had on the back-nine.

Gartrell was one shot behind Perez in the standings after a final-round 78 that gave her an overall score of 233. The junior All-American tied for 14th and was the only Moccasin in the lineup to shoot in the 70s for all three rounds (76-79-78). Svensson finished 21st with a 237 (77-80-80), and freshman Hanna Rizzolo tied for 22nd, just one stroke behind Svensson with a 238 (78-77-83).

Though not a member of the regular lineup whose scores counted for the team, Lewis tied Gartrell for 14th place and was second among the 11 golfers competing as individuals. Her 77 on Sunday also allowed her to match Gartrell by shooting in the 70s for all three rounds. The Moccasins had two of the 11 golfers in the tournament who did that.

Sophomore Ashley Zagers tied for 32nd with a 243 (83-82-78), and senior Madi Wetzel tied for 43rd with a 253 (79-86-88).

Florida Southern's next tournament is September 22-23, in Bluffton, South Carolina at the Battle at Old South.