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Golf can’t three-peat

After a solid season, the USF women’s golf team had a forgettable weekend at the NCAA East Regionals as the Bulls finished 20th out of 21 teams.

The regionals, held May 8-10, promised its eight top finishers places in the NCAA Tournament. USF, which has finished fourth the past two years, was unable to make a repeat performance. The Bulls finished 70-over-par as a team.

“It was very disappointing,” USF coach Susan Holt said. “But at the same time, when you get to that level, there is very little that separates all of those teams. You have to step up, show up and play, but unfortunately, we didn’t do that.”

Holt blamed much of the loss on playing too hard. She said she felt as though her players wanted to win so much that they wound up hurting their game.

“I think we played too tight,” Holt said. “I think it was something they really wanted, and sometimes when you want something so bad, you don’t do what comes naturally. You try too hard.”

The performance was uncharacteristic of the Bulls, who finished the season with five top-three finishes, including first place at the Conference USA Tournament on April 23. It was the team’s fifth conference championship in the past six years.

“I think as a program, any program, that is your first and foremost goal,” Holt said. “We are now on top of the conference.”

At the C-USA Tournament in Dade City, Katie Ruhe, Jill Crowe, Megan Cushman, Fany Schaeffer and Kelly Martin finished strong on the third day of play to edge out TCU by one stroke. Crowe eagled from 130 yards on the 17th, while at the same time, Ruhe and Schaeffer birdied on their respective holes, giving the Bulls just enough to pull ahead.

“It was exciting,” Holt said. “It was a situation where we had different players making a positive note. We picked up four shots real quick.”

The tournament win was the second first-place finish for the Bulls which coupled with three second-place finishes, gave them the most top-two finishes in USF women’s golf history. Not only did the team have the best one-two finish in history, it had the lowest stroke average in history.

The Bulls will face many new challenges next season, as they say goodbye to three seniors that played in every tournament this year.

“I have three spots pretty much vacant because Katie, Kelly and Fany are all departing, and they played in every single tournament the past four years,” Holt said. “There are some big shoes to fill, but I have three freshmen that have already signed coming in.”

Included in those freshmen is Daniella Ronderos, who signed with the Bulls on April 30. Ronderos, a native of Columbia, has had international competition experience and has been on the golf team at Manatee High School in Bradenton for two years. Holt also has two redshirt freshmen that she is quite confident will come in and step up.