published Sunday, May 8th, 2011

UTC season over; Pancake plays on

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golf careers of Emma de Groot and Christine Wolf came to an end Saturday.

But the seniors waited all afternoon — including a two-hour rain delay — in South Bend, Ind., to see if a teammate’s season would continue.

It won’t.

The Mocs shot 17 over par in the final round of the NCAA Central Regional and tied for 12th at 53 over for the 54-hole event. They needed to finish in the top eight to advance to the NCAA championship tournament but fell short by eight strokes.

“It’s really hard to think much about the future,” coach Colette Murray said in a release. “We weren’t just happy to be here. Our program is past that point.

“We came here to challenge for a win and advance to finals, but fell short.”

UTC’s Maria Juliana Loza could have advanced as an individual if she finished as one of the top two golfers not on an advancing team.

The junior from Colombia shot even-par 72 in the final round — closing with three straight birdies — and finished tied for eighth at 7-over 223. Duke’s Lindy Duncan earned the first individual spot, and Loza wound up tied with Tulane’s Maribel Lopez Porras for the second.

“I told [Loza] that I needed her to get back to even if we were going to have a chance to advance,” Murray said. “It was a tall order, but she’s an amazing competitor.”

During the long delay between finishing and the playoff, Loza and others in the UTC party attended Mass at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Porras won the sudden-death playoff with par after Loza’s six-foot par putt came within an inch of falling and she sank a four-footer.

Wolf tied for 18th individually after a final-round 74, and de Groot tied for 42nd after a 77. UTC freshmen Marion Duvernay and Jordan Britt tied for 92nd and 114th.

“Emma and Christine are the foundation of this program,” Murray said. “You couldn’t ask for two better people to start a program with.”

Former Baylor School standout Brooke Pancake will play in the NCAA championship with her Crimson Tide teammates.

Alabama won the East Regional at LPGA International Legends Course in Daytona Beach with a 2-over total. Pancake, a senior, shot 1-over 217 and tied for sixth, 10 shots behind teammate Stephanie Meadow, who earned medalist honors.

Tennessee finished runner-up to No. 1 Southern Cal in the West Regional. Lady Vols sophomore Erica Popson was the medalist with an 8-under 208 at Washington National Golf Club in Auburn, Wash.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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