Trio of season-best performances fuel 17-shot improvement for women’s golf at Kiawah

Barton College sophomore Maria Garcia hits her tee shot on the 18th hole at Oak Point Golf Club on Sunday. Garcia made birdie on the hole and went on to shoot a 76, matching her low round of the year. | Photo by Ashley Leonard
Barton College sophomore Maria Garcia hits her tee shot on the 18th hole at Oak Point Golf Club on Sunday. Garcia made birdie on the hole and went on to shoot a 76, matching her low round of the year. | Photo by Ashley Leonard

by Benny Benton

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C.Maria Garcia matched her season-low round, and teammates Clare McMahon and Lexie Johnston both set new career-lows for the Barton College women's golf team Sunday in the final round of the Barton Invitational at Kiawah.

Those performances helped the Lady Bulldogs trim 17 strokes off Saturday's opening-round result, but were not enough to pull Barton out of 13th place in the 17-team field.

Garcia carded five birdies in a round of 76, her best outing since the second day of the season-opening Cutter Creek Invitational.

Beginning the shotgun start on No. 15, the sophomore from Alcobendas, Spain, nearly holed her approach shot from 125 yards out on No. 18, leaving a tap-in birdie. She almost sank an eagle from the fairway on the next hole, hitting her third shot on the par-5 first from 160 yards to within two feet for another easy birdie. Her momentum continued on the par-3 second, as she drained a 50-foot putt from the fringe to move to 3-under for the day.

A pair of three-putts later in the day prevented a record round, but Garcia still came within one shot of her career-low.

McMahon, a freshman from Red Deer, Canada, also started strong, playing the first four holes at 1-under par. She finished the day with her first collegiate round in the 70s, a 79 that was five shots better than her previous Barton best.

Johnston, a freshman from Raleigh, N.C., fired an 83 on Sunday, lowering her BC best by a stroke. Sophomore Sydney Turner provided Barton's final counting score on the day, an 88, to complete the team's round of 326. Sophomore Kelsey Woodall, who led the Lady Bulldogs on Saturday with an 84, posted an 89 on Saturday that was dropped.

Barton's two-day score of 669 fell four shots behind 12th place Lincoln Memorial University and was seven shots better than 14th place Catawba College.

Armstrong State University won the event with a final-day total of 303 and a two-round score of 618. The Pirates edged second-place Limestone College by five strokes.

Barton will return to action on February 20 in Spartanburg, S.C., at the Converse Spring Invitational.