Davis captures SAC individual golf title as Lady Railsplitters finish fourth

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial University senior Lindsay Davis (Tazewell, Tenn.) clawed out of a five-stroke hole with a career-low, two-over par 74 to come roaring back to capture the 2015 South Atlantic Conference Championship individual title on Tuesday at Sevierville Golf Club’s River Course in Sevierville, Tenn. With Davis leading the charge, the Lady Railsplitters finished in fourth place with a three-round total of 955 (+91).

Davis’s place in the annals of the LMU women’s golf program was well-established before she even took the first swing in her final SAC Championship. Davis entered the tournament with 75 rounds and 37 events played in the Blue and Gray, ranking second in program history with an 81.55 stroke average. The Tazewell, Tenn. native has finished inside the top-10 in nearly a third of her career events, doing so 10 times while breaking into the top-five on three of those occasions. She was an All-SAC honorable mention selection last season, and jumped to the All-SAC second team this season.

Tuesday’s triumph elevates her career into rare air, though, as she becomes not just the first player in program history to win an individual conference championship, but only the fourth player to capture an individual medalist award of any kind. LMU assistant coach Maria Stapleton was the most recent Lady Railsplitter to medal in an event, winning the LMU Spring Shootout in March, 2012.

Davis entered Tuesday’s final round trailing Queens’ Grace Glaze by five strokes after carding a six-over par 78 in round one and a five-over par 77 in the second round. Davis had a hiccup early in the final round with a double bogey on the par-five third hole, but she erased half of the damage with a birdie on the ninth hole. A bogey on the par-four 12th hole dropped Davis back to two-over par for the day, but she pulled back even with consecutive birdies on holes 15 and 16. Bogeys on holes 17 and 18 sent Davis into the clubhouse with a career-best 74.

Davis was then left to watch from the clubhouse as the two remaining contenders, Newberry’s Karly Mims and Carson-Newman’s Danielle Baiunco, completed their rounds. Mims was right in the mix until she shot her way out of it with a five-over par 41 on the back nine, but Baiunco went into the 16th hole at one-over par for the round and housing a one-stroke lead over Davis. Baiunco stumbled late, though, bogeying both the 17th and 18th holes to finish runner-up to Davis.

Davis finished with a three-round total of 229 (+13), edging Bauinco by one stroke and Mims by three shots. Glaze, who led through the first 36 holes, tied for fourth following an 11-over par 83.

The Lady Railsplitters finished fourth with a total score of 955 (+91) and rounds of 320, 321 and 314, with Tuesday’s round trailing only Carson-Newman for the low round of the day. The Eagles rallied from eight shots back to win the SAC Championship with a three-day total of 936 (+72), headlined by a tournament-best 306 in the final round. Newberry was runner-up with 943 (+79), while Wingate finished in third place with a 944 (+80). Queens earned the final spot inside the top five with a three-round score of 957 (+93).

Sophomore Sydney Gallant (Angus, Ontario, Canada) had a nice showing for the Lady Railsplitters, narrowly missing out on the second SAC Championship All-Tournament honor of her career by tying for 11th place. Gallant shot two rounds of 78 with a round of 83 sandwiched in-between, completing the event at 23-over par.

Senior Lindy McGuire (Maryville, Tenn.) tied for 20th place with rounds of 82, 80 and 81 for a three-round total of 243 (+27), while fellow senior Brandy VanEtten (Jacksboro, Tenn.) fell four strokes back of McGuire with rounds of 82, 81 and 84. VanEtten tied for 27th place.

Junior Danielle Burrell (Basingstoke, England) cut 13 strokes off of her first round and chopped seven off of her second round with a final-round, nine-over par 81. Burrell tied for 42nd with a total of 263 (+47).

Senior Mercedes Smith (Monterey, Tenn.) tied for 40th place while competing as an individual. She carded successive rounds of 84, 89 and 89 for a three-day total of 262 (+17).

Davis’s individual medalist honor was carried by the most steady play in the 60-player field, as she led all players in total pars with 35 and par-four scoring with a 4.20 mark on the most common holes on the golf course. Davis also tied for third in par-three scoring with a 3.25 average.

This marks the end of the road for the Lincoln Memorial University women’s golf season, but Davis has a chance to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. The committee will announce the individual participants for this year’s regional tournament, set to be hosted in Savannah, Ga. May 3-5, within the next week.

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