A walk-off eagle from Kansas State’s Niamh McSherry was the positive difference between finishing ninth and in a tie for sixth at the Florida State Match-Up at Bay Point Golf Club on Sunday. McSherry finished T14th at 14-over for the tournament.
K-State was ninth of 10 teams while its finished players watched McSherry rip a drive up the middle of the fairway on the par-4, 400-yard, No. 11, then bounce a 64-yard approach within eight feet of the pin before it rolled in for eagle. The shot – McSherry’s first in the red on Sunday and K-State’s last – helped the Wildcats leap Memphis and Coastal Carolina and into a tie with Missouri at 69-over 933 for the tournament.
“All the girls were watching and it was a great feeling,” said McSherry, a junior from Lurgan. “They didn’t see it go in until (Coach Jared Helin) put his arms up and they started cheering. So did Missouri and Memphis, which was also really nice. I didn’t realise it moved us up until the end.”
McSherry closed the event 78-77-75–230 (+14), and co-led the Wildcats in scoring along with Heather Fortushniak, who shot even-par 72 over the final 18 to log K-State’s low round for the second time in her last six rounds. It was a nine-stroke improvement over Fortushniak’s previous 18 holes, thanks to three birdies, including going back-to-back on No. 18 and No. 1 to erase two early bogeys. She finished 77-81-72–230 (+14) and the T14th-place finish marked the sophomore’s first top-20 finish as a member of the scoring lineup.
“It’s a tough course and the conditions made pars feel very good yesterday,” Fortushniak said of the par-72, 6,290-yard Nicklaus Course. “Today was better, but still the course is a challenge. Making birdie on No. 18 and No. 1 was definitely the turning point in my round. It gave me a fresh start with 10 holes left to play. After that I just tried to make pars at worst and get some birdies when the opportunities were available.
“It’s definitely really cool to be in top-20, especially with how yesterday went. I was very happy with how I scored today. It was a mentally tough course, but just helped strengthen that part of my game.”
K-State entered the day seventh and looking to climb the leaderboard, but dipped the other direction in a tightly grouped pack chasing four teams ranked in the top-40, before McSherry’s late boost. K-State shot 312-317-304–933 (+69), one stroke ahead of Coastal Carolina (+70) and two strokes in front of Memphis (+71).
No. 13 LSU (22-over 886) won the team title after holding off a charge from host school and 24th-ranked Florida State (36-over 900). The Seminoles turned in the second-best score of the final round (297), but a sizable lead by the Tigers was held as they closed with a 294. LSU’s Ingrid Lindblad, ranked No. 2 in the nation, won medallist honours and was the only player under par in the 56-player field while shooting 71-72-69–212 (-4).
K-State will trade Atlantic winds for Pacific breezes when it makes a transcontinental trip – with a layover in Manhattan – to Fairfax, California for the Juli Inkster Invitational hosted by San Jose State next Monday and Tuesday, March 9-10.
“I think we’re better than this week and I hope five days at home and a good week of practice will help us heading into San Francisco next weekend,” McSherry added.