In need of some clutch performances, the USF women’s golf team got more than it could have asked for Wednesday to give the Bulls the Conference USA Championship.
Coming into the day tied for first with defending champion TCU, the Bulls supplied a determined effort, shooting a 302, the lowest round of the tournament, to edge the Horned Frogs by a shot. USF entered the tournament ranked 27th, while TCU was No. 29.
The Bulls effort paled in comparison to the stunning performance of Jill Crowe.
The USF junior opened the final round tied atop the leader board following her second-round par-72. TCU and USF were still deadlocked when Crowe lined up for her second shot on the par-4 17th hole.
Crowe managed to do what no other golfer in the tournament could accomplish by holing out for an eagle.
“It really could not have been a more exciting finish”, USF coach Susan Holt said. “I was standing off the 14th green really feeling bad for my seniors, and that’s when everything turned around. Katie (Ruhe) chipped in an unbelievable birdie on 16, and then I was told that Fany (Schaeffer) had just birdied 16 ahead of Katie. Then, I drove to 18 and found out Megan (Cushman) had finished strong with a 75.”
“On Jill’s eagle, she said she hit it a little thin from 130 yards, and it hit right between the bunker and the pin and rolled down and in,” Holt said. “It was really an unbelievable finish, and I’m really proud of our team because it looked bad at the 14th.”
That one stroke by Crowe proved to be the difference, handing the Bulls their first C-USA title since 2000. The title was USF’s fifth in C-USA’s eight-year history.
The day wasn’t all bright spots for Crowe, as she scored a par-4 on the 18th to secure the tournament championship, but watched as TCU’s D’Rae Ward sank a 20-foot birdie putt to win the individual championship by one stroke. Crowe finished in a tie for second with teammate Ruhe at 9-over-par 225 for three rounds.
Ruhe, a senior, also found her stroke Wednesday, shooting an even par-72 for the day. Ruhe joined Crowe and TCU’s Brooke Tull, the 2002 individual champion, as the only players to shoot a round of even par on the Lake Jovita course in Dade City. Those were lowest rounds of the tournament.
The Bulls completed the three rounds with an aggregate score of 912, one shot ahead of TCU, which fired a final round 303, the second best round of any team in the three-day tournament.
Cushman, a junior, rounded out USF’s top-10 finishers in seventh place, while Schaeffer tied for 13th and Kelly Martin finished 26th.
Schaeffer, a senior, joined Tull and a trio from Tulane on the All C-USA first team. She was one of three Bulls to earn all conference honors, with Ruhe on the second team, and senior Kelly Martin landing on the third team.
As top-10 finishers, Ruhe, Crowe and Cushman all earned places on the All C-USA Tournament team.
Bulls bounce back to third
The USF men’s golf team rebounded from its second-day slide to jump from seventh to third in the final standings of the 2003 C-USA Tournament. The Bulls shot a 282 Wednesday, the lowest team score of the tournament.
Junior Oscar Fraustro had a large hand in the Bulls’ success, firing a 68 on Day 3. That total tied for lowest round by any individual in the tournament and carried Fraustro to third place and a spot on the all-tournament team. Fraustro’s 3-under-par on Wednesday lifted him back to an even par 213 for the tournament.
Charlotte’s Russell Killough won the individual crown with a 4-under-par 209.
Fifth-ranked TCU won the tournament with a 10-over-par 862 for the three-day tournament. Each of the Horned Frogs’ five players shot 73 or under Wednesday.
Contact The Oracle sports staff at email@example.com