Cullowhee, NC – Western Carolina heads to the South Carolina coast for the 2022 Southern Conference Women’s Golf Championship, which opens Easter Sunday, April 17 at the par-72, 6,004 yard dye course at the Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach, SC. The Hole Champion Coronation Event will be played over three days, April 17-19, with 18 holes for each day, after last year’s tournament was shortened to two days.
The league’s nine teams – The Citadel, ETSU, Furman, Mercer, UNCG, Samford, Chattanooga, Western Carolina and Wofford – will compete for the SoCon tournament title and automatic bid for the NCAA regional field. The individual medalist will also receive an automatic regional qualification if they are not on the winning team.
The tournament begins on Sunday at 8am with a threesome Live scoring available online via GolfStat.
“Barefoot’s Dye Course is going to be a really good test for all SoCon teams,” said WCU head coach Courtney Gunter. “I know our team has the ability and desire to make things happen this week. I’m looking forward to competing against this group during the postseason and seeing what they can do.”
The five-point scoring in Western Carolina is led by a freshman Elizabeth Lohbauer, who enters the conference championship ranked 14th in the SoCon standings with a season average of 75.05. The Venice, Fla., rookie is the third-best freshman of the regular season and has accelerated WCU scoring in four of the seven stroke-play tournaments on the schedule, including two top-10 finishes in the fall semester.
Senior Madison Isaakson enters her second SoCon Championship as a Catamount after finishing 17th a season ago and the 2020 tournament being canceled during the pandemic. A Greensboro, NC product, Isaacson led WCU by scoring two goals in stroke play during the year and won five of their six matches in matchplay events as team best. She is second on the Catamount roster with a seasonal scoring average of 75.95, placing 19th at the Conference event.
Pacing WCU last at the team’s final tune-up event at Mimosa Hills, Junior Victoria Ladd will play No. 3 for the Catamounts in their second conference championship event. Ladd, from Greensboro, NC, is ranked 22nd in SoCon and third on the Catamount roster with a career-best 76.44 batting average.
WCU’s rating is rounded off with five points by a newcomer Kaitlyn Wingnean as a fourth seed and redshirt freshman Kayleigh Baker as No. 5. Wingnean ranks 26th in the conference rankings with an average of 76.93 shots in 15 overall rounds, while Baker is 49th (81.00) after competing in 21 rounds this year.
Overall, Western Carolina ranks sixth in SoCon for team stroke average this season at 303.86 per round, but has had the eight best top-10 finishes of SoCon, including two in matchplay tournaments. The Catamounts finished second to Elon in October’s NC A&T Aggie Invitational and won the Oyster Shuck Match Play tournament in Charleston, SC in early March, beating league opponents Samford (3rd) and The Citadel (7th).
“I am so proud of this team for everything they have achieved this year. We’ve had such a great fall season from start to finish, won an event this spring and I think we’re peaking at just the right time,” added Gunter.
Three SoCon teams finished the regular season in the top 100 in the women’s GolfStat team standings, led by Furman (45), ETSU (66) and Mercer (78). At 160th place overall, WCU is just behind Wofford (147) and just ahead of Samford (164) in the current rankings, although the Catamounts are 2-2 against the Terriers and 1-1 against the Bulldogs in matchplay in tournament action, ending victorious in this one Season.
Six of SoCon’s nine teams – ETSU, Furman, Mercer, Samford, Western Carolina and Wofford – have won tournaments this season. Six players in this year’s field – ETSU’s Muse and Sophie Bert, Furman’s Morgan, Samford’s Sophie Membrino, Chattanooga’s Dorota Zalewska and Wofford’s Becca Earl – have won individual titles during the 2021-22 season.
The Catamounts became only the second SoCon program to win the women’s golf title at Waynesville in 2003, halting a streak of nine straight team titles by Furman. Brandy Andersen earned WCU’s only medalist at the 2002 WCU Hall of Fame Tournament. The Catamounts also won the 2007 championship in Mt Pleasant, SC
The Southern Conference Women’s Golf Championship was first held in 1994. Furman owns the most team titles at 18, including the top nine, while Chattanooga has won five titles, all straight from 2010-14. Western Carolina owns two team titles (2003 and 2007) and ETSU (2021) and former SoCon member College of Charleston (2006) have one each.
The Paladins have produced the league’s top 17 individual medalists, while Chattanooga has six, and UNCG and Western Carolina and former members App State and College of Charleston claim one each.
ETSU won its first-ever SoCon women’s golf championship in 2021, carding a 12-over-par 876 to earn a one-shot win over runner-up Furman. That narrow margin is the smallest in conference tournament history and matches Furman’s one-stroke win over the UNCG in 2000. The Paladins’ Sarah-Eve Rheaume won the singles medalist after posting a 4-under par 212 on target had par-72, 6,006 yard Oak Point Golf Course at Kiawah Island Resort.
Full results will be made available via SoConSports.com and CatamountSports.com after the game has ended. Live scoring of the entire event is available online via GolfStat.