Moccasins Ninth After Two Rounds in National Finals Type Field at Barry Invitational

Tori Higgins
Tori Higgins

MIAMI LAKES, FL – Behind five second-round birdies from senior Tori Higgins, a -1 from junior Amanda Gartrell in the second half of her second round, and a team-best total of 147 from freshman Loren Perez, Florida Southern wrapped up day one of the Barry University Invitational ninth in a field loaded with top-20 teams.

Of the 17 teams competing at Shula's Golf Club, 13 are ranked in the WGCA Division II top-25, seven are in the top-10, and another is the nation's top-ranked NAIA team. The 13th-ranked Moccasins are ahead of five of them, and within five shots of three others, with one round remaining.

Florida Southern shot a 299 in the first round when the Moccasins were one of 12 teams to break 300 and the worst counting score for any team in the tournament was an 80. Only two teams had to count anything worse than a 77 in the opening round. That came even after heavy rain hit the area for a while, which the golfers played through on their way to an average team score of 296.

Leading the Moccasins in round one was Perez who shot a one-over-par 73, with Higgins and Gartrell right behind her at 74 and 75. Madi Wetzel was the Mocs' fourth counter with a 77, and Shelby Lewis shot an 80. Perez took Florida Southern into round two by playing the final eight holes at -1, and Wetzel played her final eight at even par. Higgins and Gartrell though had more birdies in the round with three apiece.

No one, however, could match host Barry, as the 2nd-ranked Buccaneers got a 68 from Josefina Foa Torres and a 69 from Tilda Larsson. They got another 69 from Sabrina Andolpho who was playing as an individual, putting three Buccaneers at the top of the leaderboard halfway through the day. Barry's team score of 282 (-6) was the best of round one, five shots better than No. 10 Florida Tech and seven shots better than No. 6 Arkansas Tech. None of the teams in the top half of the field had to count a score higher than a 76, and that happened only once.

In round two, the Moccasins again shot a 299, but four of the teams that broke 300 in the morning were unable to do so in the afternoon. The Mocs remained steady though behind the same three golfers who led them in round one, as Perez, Higgins, and Gartrell all shot a second-round 74. Wetzel and Lewis each had a 77.

Higgins started her second round on No. 10, and birdied three of the first six holes to sit at -2 for the round and even-par for the day. A run of bogeys on the front nine pushed her back, but she ended with birdies on 7 and 9 for a second straight 74. Her total of eight birdies on the day were topped by only four other golfers.

Perez had just one birdie in the second round, and Gartrell had two compared to Higgins' five, but they also had 14 pars each. Perez's birdie came on No. 10, which was her final hole of the day, and it gave her the Mocs' best total score of the day at +3 (147). She's currently tied for 19th. Higgins is tied for 24th at +4 (148), and Gartrell is tied for 30th at +5 (149).

Wetzel's second 77 of the day put her at +10 (154) and tied for 59th, and Lewis' 77 put her at +13 (157), tied for 72nd.

In the team standings, Florida Tech grabbed the lead from Barry with a second-round 286 that left the Panthers at -3 for the day, two shots ahead of the Buccaneers who had a second-round 293. That was 11 shots off the Bucs' first-round score, but it was still enough to keep them under-par at -1.

Arkansas Tech remained third at +1, only four shots off the pace, but the gap was much larger after that. Keiser, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA poll, is fourth at +12, and No. 3 Nova Southeastern is in fifth place at +13. Rollins and Lynn, who share the No. 8 ranking, also share sixth place in the tournament standings at +17, and No. 22 Tampa is eighth at +18.

Behind No. 13 Florida Southern are No. 4 Indianapolis, No. 24 Flagler, No. 11 Grand Valley State (MI), No. 14 Limestone (SC), and No. 19 Southwestern Oklahoma State.

Florida Tech's Lucy Eaton is the individual leader at -6 (138) after rounds of 70 and 68 and a tournament-high 11 birdies on Monday. The only other golfer to break par in both rounds was Torres from Barry, who relinquished her first-round lead but still had a second-round 71 to put her at -5 (139) with 10 birdies, and just one stroke behind Eaton.

Larsson and Pilar Echeverria of Indianapolis are tied for third at -3, and two Arkansas Tech golfers, Peerada Piddon and Pia Nunbhakdi, are tied for fifth at -2.

The Barry University Invitational concludes on Tuesday with an 8:00 a.m. shotgun start at Shula's Golf Club.