Williams Forces Playoff After Placing First at the TWU Fall Invite
NIOTA, Tenn. – After the opening round of Tennessee Wesleyan’s Fall Invitational on Monday, only three competitors in the field of 48 were able to shoot under an 80 on the tough 5,817-yard (par 72) course at the Springbrook Golf and Country Club. One of those few standout individuals was Bryan College women’s golfer Taylor Williams. She had a strong start on the first day of action, building momentum on hole number two with a birdie and eventually stood even par after eight holes. At the end of the round, her 78 was good enough to place first, but SCAD-Atlanta’s (Ga.) Micaa’ Thomas was following closely behind and managed to match Williams’ mark of 78 to tie for the top spot. Annika Blanton from fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference school Brenau University (Ga.) trailed with a 79 to round out the top three. As a team, the Lions were sitting in fifth of the nine total schools competing with the help of first-year golfer for Bryan, Daniella Banda who pieced together an impressive 80 opening round score to squeeze in the top five.
Many individuals were able to settle in on Tuesday and record sub-80 scores, and once again, both Williams and Thomas were two of the eight to do so. The back-and-forth bout by the duo would come down to the final hole, setting up Williams with the knockout punch coming in the form of a 12-foot birdie putt. Thomas had finished with a solid 76 for a 154 total, and the putt by Williams would seal the overall medalist position with a 75. Williams paused on the 18th-green with Bryan assistant coach Jake Goins standing by her side, helping read the green and pick a line that would secure her the overall victory. Williams took her position and delivered a shot that traveled her line perfectly, which sent the ball directly on course to the cup. What appeared to be a sure birdie somehow rested on the edge, where Williams went on to tap it in, leaving her with a notable 76 that leveled her and Thomas with two-day totals of 154. The two golfers tied for the medalist spot, but the identical rounds forced a sudden death playoff to take place to determine an overall winner. While it was a close call on the team leaderboard, Thomas’ performance helped propel her into becoming the invitational champion, as well as, SCAD-Atlanta ousting Brenau for the team win.
“It was strangely reminiscent of the AAC Women’s Championship held at Springbrook six years ago when Bryan’s top player Audrey Nelson sat on the same tee in a sudden death playoff in search of her second conference championship title,” said Bryan Head Coach, Peter Bollant. “Nelson, like Williams, came up short, but overall that doesn’t change how proud we are of Taylor for the way she battled with some of the top players the AAC has to offer. We are extremely excited to see what she and the rest of the team can do in our Fall Conference Championship coming up in a couple of weeks.”
Banda had a great outing, tying for eighth with an 80 and 82 for a two-day total of 162. Emily Hutson’s 93 and 95 for a 188 put her in 40th while Megan Clarkson’s 92 and 104 for a 196 tied her for 44th. SCAD-Atlanta shot a 642 over both days for first as a team, followed by Brenau in second with 647, and host school Tennessee Wesleyan rounding out the top three with a 653. Reinhardt University (Ga.) (695) placed fourth, Truett McConnell University (Ga.) (698) placed fifth, and Bryan’s 700 was good enough for sixth. Trailing the Lions by one stroke was Montreat College (N.C.) (701), Tennessee Wesleyan’s B Team (711) finished in eighth, and in last was Maryville College (Tenn.) (736).
The Lions will hit the links next at the AAC Fall Championship slated for Oct. 8-9 at the Elizabethton Golf Course in Elizabethton, Tenn.
To view the full player and team leaderboards from the Tennessee Wesleyan Fall Invitational, click here.