Taylor Wells hit 15 greens in regulation in Sunday's final round of the Georgianni Memorial. She was one of only seven players in the 110-player field to break 80 in the final round.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis.--Taylor Wells (So./Rochester, Minn./Century) hit a school-record 15 greens in regulation, firing a final-round five-over par 78 to lead 18th-ranked Carleton's top-five finish at the Georgianni Memorial.
Fellow sophomores Kelsey Moede (Lake Oswego, Ore.) and Gina Kabasakalis (Alameda, Calif./College Prep) finished tied for 10th with two-day totals of 19-over par 164 while Wells finished one shot back in a tie for 17th.
The Knights passed two teams in the final round by posting 336 for a two-day total of 670, tied for the ninth-best 36-hole total in school history. The Knights ended behind four teams that are ranked inside the top 11 in the preseason Golf World coaches poll. Washington University (Mo.), ranked sixth, rallied with a final-round 315 to end at 646, topping No. 8 Gustavus by two shots. No. 11 St. Olaf finished third at 658, four shots clear of No. 6 and tourney host UW-Eau Claire. St. Benedict ended sixth at 679, in front of St. Thomas at 680, No. 10 Illinois Welseyan at 687 and the Gustavus second team at 688. It marked Carleton's first win ever over IWU, the 10-time defending CCIW champions. The field featured seven teams that qualified for last year's national tournament.
"Overall it was a very solid weekend for us," Carleton head coach Eric Sieger said. "At times we looked very good, and at other times we were a bit shaky. Our work on the greens left something to be desired."
For Wells, the sophomore rebounded after one of her worst collegiate rounds on Saturday with her best ball-striking day ever. She hit the first green, missed the next three, and proceeded to hit every single green the rest of the way. While the scorecard reflected some putting difficulties with 35 putts overall, she hit some great putts that simply wouldn't go down, according to Sieger.
"She had really good looks at almost every hole on the back nine," she said. "She felt like she hit great putts, but they just wouldn't go down for her. I was so proud that she really turned it around today from yesterday, and despite a couple of hiccups early in the round, she stayed very positive and aggressive. I think this is a round and experience Taylor can really build from moving forward."
For Moede, who was in the hunt teeing off on Sunday, that feeling and a balky flatstick made for a long day. "Kelsey really hasn't been in that position in college yet, so it was good for her to experience playing in that top group," Sieger said. "She struggled early with her ballstriking, but figured it out from tee to green, but she putted about as poorly as I've seen her. I'm not worried, though--she'll get it figured out."
Kabasakalis, meanwhile, had the putter save her a bit, recording only 31 putts on a day where the wind and heat made the greens faster as the day progressed, with Sieger estimating the field averaging well above 36 putts. "I thought Gina's competitiveness really shined through this weekend," he said. "She really had her 'B' game from tee to green and really struggled to find consistent yardages with her irons and didn't hit her driver as straight as she usually does, but she battled and fought her way into the top 10."
Carleton's two rookies also saw their first collegiate golf action. Grace Gilmore (Edina, Minn.) had a rough second day and ended at 177 while Mara Daly (St. Louis Park, Minn.) finished at 195.
"I thought Mara and Grace did fine this weekend," Sieger said. "I know and they know they're capable of posting much better scores, but I saw some real positives from them this weekend and I think it was a bit eye-opening for them to play in such a big, ultra-competitive event right off the bat. I think we'll see them both settle in a bit more these next few weeks and shoot some better scores."
Last year's national player of the year, Olivia Lugar of Washington University, finished in a tie for first with the BluGolds' Kate Engler at 10-over par 155, but claimed medalist honors by virtue of a lower second-round score. Gustavus' Sam Falk was third at 156, as the field featured five 2011-12 NGCA All-Americans, including defending individual national champion Catherine Wagner of UW-Eau Clarie (who finished ninth at 163) and the national runner-up in St. Olaf's Molly Erickson (T10th at 164).