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Oct. 18, 2009

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Three South Carolina individuals earned top-15 finishes and the Gamecock women’s golf team took home its best finish from a 54-hole stroke play event since 2005 with a third-place showing at the Mercedes-Benz Women’s Collegiate Championship. The Gamecocks shot 297 (+9) on Sunday to finish at 889 (+25) for the tournament, only two strokes back of runner-up Louisville.

South Carolina had its best-ever finish at the Mercedes-Benz, surpassing its fourth-place showing in 1999. It was also a vast improvement from last year’s tournament at Fox Den Country Club when the Gamecocks shot 912 to finish in 15th place.

“They did a great job,” head coach Kalen Anderson said. “We made a really good run at second place coming down the stretch. We sort of owned the back nine the last two days after a little bit of a slow start. I think more than anything, we’re just a better team this year. We still have maturing to do, but we are a much more mature team with a lot more depth. Everybody’s playing better.”

Senior Corrine Carr led the way with a career-best fifth place finish at 1-over par for the tournament. Her 54-hole total of 217 was three shots better than her previous career low, a 220 at the 2008 NCAA East Regional while a sophomore at Furman. She shot 71 in the final round, the Gamecocks’ only sub-par round of the week and one of only six in the field Sunday. She started out with a birdie at the first hole, then made the turn at even par after a pair of bogeys along with one other birdie on her last four holes. She would come back with birdies at a pair of tough holes, the par-3 13th and the long par-4 17th, to offset a bogey at No. 15 and give her a 1-under finish.

Fellow senior Benedicte Toumpsin and sophomore Katie Burnett entered the day tied, then shot matching rounds of 75 (+3) to remain that way, finishing in a tie for 15th place. Toumpsin struggled early with three bogeys and a double on the front nine, making the turn at 5-over. But she would turn in a strong back nine with no bogeys and a pair of birdies at the 10th and 16th to finish at 3-over. Burnett, likewise, got off to a rough start with double-bogey at the opening hole. But she would calm down after that, coupling a pair of birdies with three bogeys to finish her day at 3-over.

Freshman Amanda Strang tied for 29th after shooting 76 in the final round, and fellow rookie Meredith Swanson improved by two strokes in the final round with a 77 to finish in a tie for 66th.

Conditions were highly unfavorable all three days of the event. Rain on Friday coupled with bitter cold and wind for the weekend made low scores rare throughout the field. But the Gamecocks were undeterred, placing three individuals in the top 15 for the first time since the 2005 Chrysler Challenge. In that event, Jenna Pearson and Whitney Simons tied for sixth with Erica Battle tied for eighth and Laura McCaslin tied for 10th.

“They said this morning it was about 42 degrees, then add the wind to that,” Anderson said. “The first day was raining, yesterday was cloudy, miserable and cold; today was sunny, windy and cold. In the last few events, we made a few aggressive mistakes. This week we were a little more patient. We still left a lot out there, but they really did a great job. We really executed very well. It was a nice way to end the fall season, it showed where we can be. “

Tennessee was the wire-to-wire winner of their home tournament, taking a 19-shot victory at 868 (+4). Louisville was second at 887 (+23) with the Gamecocks only two shots back of the Cardinals. Carolina was eight shots clear of their next-closest competitor, Kent State (+33).

Louisville’s Laura Anderson and the Lady Vols’ Nathalie Mansson tied for first place at 3-under after matching rounds of 71 on Sunday; Mansson defeated Anderson on the fifth hole of a sudden-death playoff to claim medalist honors. Tennessee’s Ginny Brown was third at 1-under, followed by the Cardinals’ Sara-Maude Juneau at even par, with Carr one stroke back in fifth.

With the fall season at its end, the Gamecocks will now turn their attention to fine-tuning their games and focusing on academics for the rest of the semester. South Carolina’s next tournament will take place Feb. 22-23, 2010, at the Central District Invitational just outside of Tampa, Fla.

T5. Corrine Carr – 73-73-71=217 (+1)
T15. Katie Burnett – 75-73-75=223 (+7)
T15. Benedicte Toumpsin – 76-72-75=223 (+7)
T29. Amanda Strang – 79-72-76=227 (+11)
T66. Meredith Swanson – 78-79=77=234 (+18)

1. Tennessee – 868 (+4)
2. Louisville – 887 (+23)
3. SOUTH CAROLINA – 889 (+25)
4. Kent State – 897 (+33)
5. Wake Forest – 899 (+35)
6. TCU – 900 (+36)
7. Florida – 902 (+38)
8. Chattanooga – 907 (+43)
9. Notre Dame – 908 (+44)
10. Mississippi – 909 (+45)
T11. NC State – 910 (+46)
T11. LSU – 910 (+46)
13. Tulane – 913 (+49)
14. Arkansas – 920 (+56)
15. Ohio State – 921 (+57)
16. Furman – 928 (+64)
17. Kentucky – 937 (+73)
18. UT-San Antonio – 948 (+84)