CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.---The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s golf team completed just its second season of competition in 2008-09 since ending the program in the mid-1980s. Even so, the Lady Mocs made a strong imprint on the national golf scene.
Chattanooga finished the year ranked No. 44 in both the Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings Index and Golfstat Rankings. The Lady Mocs were highest ranked team in the Southern Conference, but that doesn’t begin to tell the tale.
The Lady Mocs took full advantage of an at large bid to the NCAA Central Regional. As the No. 16 seed, Chattanooga earned a place in the NCAA Finals finishing eighth on the demanding Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio. The NCAA Finals appearance was the first in the history of either golf program.
It was an exciting four rounds for the Lady Mocs at the finals as they held their own on the hilly Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. The team finished 21st, but were in contention for a top 15 finish throughout the event. The highlight was the third round 305 which ranked as the ninth best round of the day.
Chattanooga claimed two tournament wins in 2008-09 defending its title at the Chris Banister Gamecock Classic and taking the inaugural JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational. The schedule was among the best in the nation as Head Coach Colette Murray took an aggressive tact in preparing her team for nationals.
Along the way, the Lady Mocs claimed several impressive wins. The headliner would be besting No. 5 Wake Forest in October at the Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship. Wins over No. 12 Denver, No. 17 Arizona, No. 19 Louisville, No. 21 Kent State, No. 24 Tennessee as well as teams just outside the top 25 (Stanford, Ohio State, Georgia State & UC Irvine) further cemented the Lady Mocs place among the top teams on the collegiate scene.
Sophomore Emma de Groot and freshman Maria Salinas earned All-SoCon honors this season with Salinas following de Groot as the league’s Freshman of the Year. Maria Juliana Loza joined Salinas on the All-Freshman team.
de Groot captured two medalist honors in leading the Lady Mocs to wins at the Banister and Eagle Landing with four top fives overall. The two wins gave her four in her two years with 13 top 10s and 16 top 20s in 24 career tournaments.
Salinas posted five top 10 finishes on the year including a tie for third at the Southern Conference Championship playing with an injured elbow. Her tie for 10th against a strong field at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, shooting 217 (+1), was arguably the most impressive finish by a Lady Mocs golfer this season.
It was a total team effort to get to the finals. Sophomore Christine Wolf played steady, consistent golf at the Central Regional to tie de Groot for team-low honors. Freshman Moa Duf, who joined the team in January from Sweden, opened with two rounds of 74 (+2) to key the squad into the top eight from the beginning.
Just as impressive was that of the six players who competed in team events this year, all six registered a top 10 finish, five with top fives. The Lady Mocs set a new school record with a five-under par 283 in final round of the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational to expand their lead and clinch the title.
Overall, it was a great year for Chattanooga women’s golf. And with a starting lineup that featured two sophomores and three freshmen, the future is bright.