The Troy women’s golf team won the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Championship, the first in the school’s Division I history, last Wednesday, April 16, at the Steelwood Country Club in Loxley.
The victory has given the Trojans an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, which begins May 8, and will take place in one of three regional locations. Spanish native and freshman Fatima Rernandez Cano won the individual title on the first playoff hole, finishing with a 70-80-71–221 weekend.
“It’s a little too much to take in right now,” said head coach Bart Barnes. “It’s not sunk in right now. I’m so proud of them and for them.”
As a team, Troy finished six shots ahead of the second-place Texas State Bobcats and 26 shots ahead of third place South Alabama.
Cano finished her final round shooting one-under, including a key birdie on the 16th hole, which tied her with Texas State’s senior Mara Puisite as overall leader.
Cano pulled away on the 18th, as she nailed her opening drive down the hole’s fairway, while Puisite’s shot found its way into the water. Cano would go on to par the hole, winning the playoff and claiming the individual title.
“Going into today, the goal was to play my best – to be patient and try to do my best,” Cano said. “It was a new day. I was trying to be the best I could be – take it shot by shot and hole by hole.”
Troy’s lineup was made up of a pair of freshmen with Cano and Becca Horner, along with three juniors, Brooke Spinks, Taylor McGraw and Langley Vannoy.
Spinks, Horner and McGraw all shot three-over on the day. Spinks joined Cano on the All-Tournament Team with a third overall finish. All four of the players mentioned finished in the top 10 of the individual standings, making Troy the lone Sun Belt team to do so.
“I knew we had this caliber of team. We have taken a lead in some tournaments this spring, but we just haven’t finished,” Barnes said. “Each time we seemed to finish better, though.”
The NCAA Regionals will begin on Thursday, May 8, and will conclude that Saturday, May 10. The Trojans will begin their play at either the SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla., Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., or Tumble Creek at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Wash.