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March 15, 2009

BATON ROUGE, La. – South Carolina junior Benedicte Toumpsin put together the best 54 holes of her collegiate career and the best final round in Gamecock history, tying for first place at the LSU Golf Classic before falling on the second hole of a three-way playoff with Arkansas’ Lucy Nunn and Virginia’s Calle Nielson at The University Club on Sunday afternoon. Toumpsin turned in a bogey-free 68 on Sunday and finished with a 7-under-par 209, five shots better than her previous 54-hole record.

“We had a really good weekend,” head coach Kalen Anderson said. “This was a great confidence-builder for our team. The conditions were very scoreable, and we delivered. I was very pleased with them today.”

Toumpsin tied her career-best 18-hole round with her 68 and had three straight rounds under par for the first time in her collegiate career. It marks the highest finish for a Gamecock women’s golfer since Toumpsin won the NCAA East Regional last season. Her third-round 68 set a school record for the best final-round score in South Carolina history, besting a fivesome of 69s by Adrienne Gautreaux (twice), Kristy McPherson, Kerry Zebick and Debbie Eckroth.

“Benedicte played fantastic,” Anderson said. “I followed her today, and she could have shot 62 easily. She was 4-under through 10 holes and she had pars the rest of the way. Could have been really special if a few putts would have fallen; she was burning edges all day.”

Her total score of 209 also ties for the second-lowest 54-hole score in South Carolina history, matching a pair of efforts by current LPGA star Kristy McPherson, who shot 209 at the 2002 SEC Championship and the 2003 NCAA East Regional.

In a tournament that saw numerous low numbers across the board, 15 players finished at par or better. South Carolina freshman Katie Burnett was one stroke out of that group after a 2-under 70 in Sunday’s final round got her to 1-over for the tournament and a tie for 16th place. Burnett erased a bogey on her third hole, the par-4 12th, before rolling off a string of three birdies in six holes to get to 2-under for the round. She erased another bogey with a birdie at the 7th to finish at 2-under for the day. It was the second-best finish for Burnett in her young career, coming in just behind her eighth-place finish at the season-opening Cougar Classic in Charleston.

“The rest of our team stepped up their game this weekend,” Anderson said. “Taylor Barrett finished with a strong 73, Cayci Ruppe rose to the occasion with this being her first time in our lineup, and Katie Burnett had a 70, which was a great round. I was proud to see us post some low numbers, and I hope this gives us momentum heading to Texas next week.”

The remaining four South Carolina golfers improved on their Saturday rounds in Sunday’s final round. Junior Taylor Barrett was a whopping nine strokes better with a 1-over 73 that included four birdies, senior Meredith Taylor was four strokes better with a 77, and freshman Cayci Ruppe shaved three strokes off her Saturday score with a 4-over 76. Freshman Taylor Weaver, playing as an individual, improved by three strokes on Sunday with a 76.

The Gamecocks finished tied for 10th in the team standings at 20-over after a team score of 287 (-1) today. It was the first time in school history that the team finished in red figures in the final round of a tournament and tied for the second-best 18-hole total in school history, matching a 287 in the second round of the 2003 NCAA East Regional.

The teams took advantage of a soft, soggy course and “lift, clean and place” conditions on Sunday to turn in extremely low numbers. Virginia was the wire-to-wire team champion with three straight rounds under par to finish with an 8-under 856 for the weekend. Tulane fired a sizzling 278 (-10) on Sunday to finish second at 3-under, and host LSU was 5-under on the day to finish third. Nunn, Nielson and Toumpsin all finished at 7-under 209, and Nunn won on the second playoff hole. Nannette Hill of Wake Forest was one shot back at 6-under, and Tulane’s Daniela Holmqvist and Virginia’s Whitney Neuhauser were another stroke back at 5-under.

The Gamecock women will not have long to rest with another tournament right around the corner. They will head to Austin, Texas, next week for the Besty Rawls Longhorn Invitational, which runs March 20-22 at the University of Texas.

T1. Benedicte Toumpsin – 70-71-68=209 (-7)
T16. Katie Burnett – 73-74-70=217 (+1)
T72. Cayci Ruppe – 74-79-76=229 (+13)
T76. Taylor Barrett – 75-82-73=230 (+14)
T81. Taylor Weaver – 77-79-76=232 (+16)*
T86. Meredith Taylor – 76-81-77=234 (+18)
*Played as an individual

1. Virginia (-8)
2. Tulane (-3)
3. LSU (+3)
4. Arkansas (+5)
T5. Wake Forest (+6)
T5. North Carolina (+6)
T5. Louisville (+6)
T8. TCU (+16)
T8. Kentucky (+16)
T10. South Carolina (+20)
T10. Colorado (+20)
12. Notre Dame (+21)
13. Furman (+26)
14. NC State (+28)
15. UNC Wilmington (+30)
16. Mississippi (+32)
17. College of Charleston (+36)
18. Mississippi State (+54)