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Friday, May 7, 2021

Ever-improving Walsh pipped to the post at UCF Challenge

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Lauren Walsh led the Wake Forest women’s golf team to second place at their first collegiate tournament in 328 days but fell two shots shy in her bid to claim a third individual title at the UCF Challenge.

The Castlewarden star, who followed up a maiden win at the Grandover Resort in October with another a month later at the Sunshine State Amateur, returned a two-over par round of 74 for a five-under 54-hole total. Douglas’ Sara Byrne, who also competed at the event on debut for Miami, tied 19th after rounds of 70, 74 and 75 for a three over total.

As for Wake Forest, four of the five Demon Deacons finished inside the top-15 in a field of 90 with Walsh just two back of Houston’s Karen Fredgaard after playing some of her best collegiate golf on her way to second place for the week. Ten birdies over her first two rounds helped Walsh secure her spot inside the top five early and she was able to maintain that position through the final round.

“This was a last-minute tournament added to the schedule, we arrived on campus, quarantined, and then headed off to the first event,” said head coach Kim Lewellen.

“We didn’t have our A game, but we still came out and competed. This team has a lot of heart and I look forward to what’s in store for the spring. I know Lauren would have liked to take home first, but she looked fantastic and had a great event. Rachel was right behind her playing some good golf. Mimi Rhodes played her first tournament wearing black and gold. She played extremely well in tough conditions, showing she can compete with anyone.

“It was wonderful to be competing again and this team is ready to go again. Thank you for everyone in our athletic department that has made it possible for these young ladies to do what they love.”

Sophomore Rachel Kuehn was right behind Walsh, finishing in a tie for third just three strokes back. Kuehn’s tournament performance was highlighted by a career-low 66 in her opening round, which saw her share a portion of the lead for a time. An even-par score in the second round kept her in the top five and she was able to maintain that position through the final round.

Freshman Mimi Rhodes and senior Siyun Liu finished in a tie for 14th. In her debut as a Demon Deacon, Rhodes carded two of three rounds under par. Liu, a fifth year senior, showed her veteran status with consistent play across all three rounds to maintain good field position throughout the event.

Wake Forest will be back on the links February 21-22 at the Palmetto Springs Invitational, hosted by College of Charleston. The event will be played at Turtle Point Golf Club in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

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