June 15, 2016
Following a fall season that didn’t produce a single top-five finish, South Carolina women’s golf entered this spring ranked No. 43 by Golfstat. Two runner-up finishes and a fifth-place showing at the 2016 SEC Championship pushed the Gamecocks into the top-25, and they carried that momentum into the NCAA postseason, claiming a share of the Baton Rouge Regional Title.
At the 2016 NCAA Championship, South Carolina made history, reaching the match-play quarterfinals of the event for the first time. The Gamecocks placed seventh at the tournament and finished No. 15 in Golfstat’s final poll. Here’s a look back at a spring season that solidified South Carolina’s place among the nation’s elite.
I’m so proud of this group. They played with so much heart and toughness. But we have so much to hold our heads high about.Head Coach Kalen Anderson
By The Numbers
4 | The Gamecocks captured their 4th NCAA Regional Title in the last seven years
5 | South Carolina became one of 5 schools to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in each of the last seven seasons
6 | Katelyn Dambaugh’s 6 top-five finishes were the most by a junior in program history
8 | Dambaugh shot par or better in 8 of South Carolina’s 10 postseason rounds
71.62 | Dambaugh’s 71.62 stroke average, the lowest single-season mark in school history, ranked second in Division I
277 | The Gamecocks’ second-round 277 at the Baton Rouge Regional was their lowest 18-hole score ever
294.18 | South Carolina finished the season with its third-best single-season scoring average, a 294.18
1162 | The Gamecocks posted their lowest 72-hole total, a 1162, at the NCAA Championship
FSU Match-Up â€¢ Feb. 12-14 â€¢ Don Veller Seminole Golf Course and Club
South Carolina posted its best finish of the season to date at the FSU Match-Up, claiming runner-up honors with a 54-hole total of 875 (+11). Three Gamecocks placed in the top-10, including junior Katelyn Dambaugh, who notched her second runner-up finish of the season. Senior Sarah Schmelzel tallied her third career top-five performance, finishing fourth, while sophomore Ainhoa Olarra settled for a tie for eighth. The event marked Olarra’s first career top-10 finish for the Gamecocks, who have placed in the top-10 in each of their three appearances at the tournament.
Darius Rucker Intercollegiate â€¢ March 4-6 â€¢ Long Cove Club
In just five years of existence, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate has become one of the top college golf tournaments in the country. This spring was no different, as seven teams ranked in the top 25 competed at the event, including each of the top five women’s golf programs. Eleven of the 17 teams in the field qualified for the 2015 NCAA Championships, and eight schools entered the event with a tournament victory under their belt this season.
Approximately 1,500 spectators and over 100 Long Cove volunteers were on hand to watch No. 3 Alabama win the 54-hole tournament with a score of 868 (+16). Crimson Tide freshman Cheyenne Knight earned medalist honors after totaling a 213 (E), while South Carolina junior Katelyn Dambaugh finished in a tie for seventh with a three-round score of 217 (+4). The host Gamecocks moved up the leaderboard on the final day to end the weekend in a tie for eighth (887, +35).
Bryan National Collegiate â€¢ April 1-3 â€¢ Bryan Park Champions Course
Playing in her final regular season tournament of her collegiate career, Sarah Schmelzel broke through and captured her first career medalist honors at the Bryan National Collegiate. Schmelzel battled windy conditions all weekend, and her third-round 75 (+3) secured a two-stroke victory for the Phoenix, Ariz., native, who ranks fourth all-time on South Carolina’s career scoring average (74.25). Her efforts helped the Gamecocks notch their second runner-up finish of the spring, while Katelyn Dambaugh carded a final-round 70 (-2) to finish in a tie for second. Her third-round score was the only one under par on the final day of the 54-hole event.
Winning my first event definitely felt like a weight off my shoulders. It meant the world to me to share the experience with my dad, as he came in from Arizona to watch. It’s rewarding to see all the pieces and hard work finally come together.
SEC Championship â€¢ April 15-17 â€¢ Greystone Golf and Country Club
First-Team All-American Katelyn Dambaugh’s historic junior campaign anchored the Gamecocks during the postseason and resulted in the team’s fourth-straight top-five finish at the SEC Championship. Dambaugh caught fire on the final day of the tournament, posting a final-round 66 (-6) to climb to the top of the individual leaderboard before ultimately settling for runner-up honors at Greystone Golf and Country Club.
Her second-place showing was the highest finish for a South Carolina golfer at the SEC Championship since 2009, and her total of 209 (-7) fell two strokes short of the league tournament 54-hole mark. Sophomore Ainhoa Olarra was sensational in her postseason debut, opening with a first-round 69 (-3) on the way to an eighth-place performance with a career-best three-day score of 217 (+1). The Gamecocks and tournament champion Alabama were the only two schools to have multiple golfers finish in the top-10.
NCAA Baton Rouge Regional â€¢ May 5-7 â€¢ University Club
For the second-straight season and the fourth time in the last seven years, South Carolina finished atop the leaderboard at an NCAA Regional. The Gamecocks posted a final-round 290 (+2) to earn a share of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional title with a three-day total of 857 (-7). Katelyn Dambaugh again set the pace for South Carolina, matching the program 54-hole record with a 207 (-9) to claim her first career medalist honors.
The Gamecocks’ title was jumpstarted by a second-round 277 (-11), the best 18-hole score in program history, and the victory marked their eighth win under head coach Kalen Anderson. All four of South Carolina’s regional championships have come under Anderson. Dambaugh became the 16th player in program history to earn medalist honors, while Sarah Schmelzel and Marion Veysseyre also placed in the top-20 in Baton Rouge. Veysseyre’s 219 (+3) marked the best 54-hole total in the freshman’s career.
It felt good to win. I know I’ve been close this whole time, and it was nice to be able to help my team win when no one thought we could. That’s what means the most.
NCAA Championship â€¢ May 5-7 â€¢ Eugene Country Club
The Gamecocks continued to make history during the postseason when they made their seventh-straight appearance at the NCAA Championship. Strong performances from Katelyn Dambaugh and Ainhoa Olarra and steady play down the stretch from Sarah Schmelzel resulted in a four-day total of 1162 (+10), South Carolina’s lowest 72-hole mark ever. The score put the Gamecocks in seventh place following stroke play and moved them into the match-play portion of the tournament for the first time in program history.
South Carolina’s quarterfinal match came against the Stanford, the 2015 NCAA Champions. The Gamecocks hung tough in their match-up with the Cardinal, but eventually fell, 3-2, at Eugene Country Club. Dambaugh and Olarra each tallied a point for South Carolina, while Marion Veysseyre took four-time All-American Mariah Stackhouse to the final hole before losing, 1-up.
The seventh place showing in Oregon marked the Gamecocks’ second-best finish ever at an NCAA Championship, and South Carolina was one of just two schools to have three golfers finish in the top-20 individually. Dambaugh placed in a tie for 11th, the fifth-best finish for a Gamecock at the event, while Olarra’s 288 (E) put her in a tie for 16th. Schmelzel tied for 20th after shooting par or better in each of her final three rounds. The senior closed her collegiate career with rounds of par or better in five of her final six outings, and her 73.21 stroke average stands as the fifth-best single-season mark in school history.