Eriksen and Lions sweep Saint Leo Women's Golf Invite titles

Eriksen and Lions sweep Saint Leo Women's Golf Invite titles

SAINT LEO, Fla. – Redemption.

That's the best way to describe Vilde Eriksen's second round of the 2016 Saint Leo Women's Golf Invitational on Tuesday, a round that propelled the junior to her first collegiate title.

Eriksen shot a six-under 66, matching teammates Marie Coors and Amanda Jakobsson for the lowest round in program history, to finish tied atop the leaderboard with a two-day total of 138 (-6) – then went out and won a one-hole playoff with Florida Tech's Brittany LaPadula to clinch medalist honors.

Oh – and the Norwegian junior also led her Saint Leo squad to a crushing 15-stroke victory over the rest of the field to claim the Saint Leo Invitational team championship for the first time in program history.

The Lions pillaged and burned the par 72, 6133-yard Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club North Course with a 571 (-5) over 36 holes on their way to winning the event; second-place Lynn University was the closest to catching the Lions, and they fired a comparatively pedestrian 586 (+10).

How very Viking.

"The dedication and hard work Vilde puts into her game on a daily basis came out this week. I'm ecstatic for her," said Tommy Baker, Saint Leo's head women's golf coach.

Eriksen's finish was in stark contrast to her stretch run at the 2015 Saint Leo Invitational, played on Lake Jovita's South Course. Leading the field after the opening round, Eriksen's day-two ended with a five-over 77 in the final round – including a double-bogey on no. 18 to yield her one-stroke lead and fall to third place.

This time around, Eriksen proved she had a champion's mettle. She responded to a bogey on no. 16 with a brilliant par on the par-3 no. 17, digging her way out of a bunker to eventually salvage the hole with a 20-foot putt. Her birdie putt attempt on no. 18 came up roughly an inch shy of the hole, and the tap-in par sent her back to no. 17 with LaPadula for a playoff.

LaPadula carded a bogey on the hole, while Eriksen made par to clinch the win – and calmly walked off the course as the medalist as if she'd done it all before.

The bogey on no. 16 was one of only two blemishes on an otherwise sterling round for Eriksen, who carded eight birdies and eight pars on the day. Her only other bogey was right out of the gate on no. 1, with a six on the par-5 hole.

"The conditions were great and I was confident in my game, which resulted in two good rounds," said Eriksen. "I went out there with the goal of bringing the team the victory; little did I know I would score the best round so far in my collegiate career."

There were plenty of birdies all around for the Lions to catch during Tuesday's second round.

Coors, a senior playing her final competitive round on her collegiate home course, birdied holes 4, 11, and 16, on her way to a one-under 71 and a two-day total of 143 – tied for seventh on the individual leaderboard.

After carding a four-over 40 on the front nine, junior Amanda Jakobsson recovered in strong form on the back nine with birdies on 10, 11, and 12 . She finished the round with a three-over 75, and 12th overall with a two-day score of 147 (+3).

Junior Margine Arguello made the biggest climb up the leaderboard of any of the Lions, finishing with an even-par 72 for a two-day score of 149 (+5), tied for 14th on the individual board. Arguello carded three birdies on the front nine on her way to a 34 (-2) through nine holes, and had just two bogeys on the back nine to par the round.

Senior Sabrina Rumbaugh rounded out the scorers for Saint Leo; after posting the Lions' low round on Monday with a one-under 71, Rumbaugh played in the pressure-packed final group and scored two birdies on her way to an eight-over 80 on the day. She finished tied for 24th overall with a two-day score of 151 (+7).

Some of Saint Leo's four individuals even got in on Tuesday's low-scoring bonanza, led by freshman Izzy Lawrence's two-over 74. She finished tied for 14th overall with a five-over 149 over the 36-hole tournament.

Sophomore Alex Velez finished tied for 46th overall with a 157 (+13), after carding a five-over 77 on Tuesday. Mao Young fired a birdie on no. 15 on her way to a six-over 78, and finished the tournament with a 158 (+14). Sophomore Emma Duncan picked up birdies on no. 4 and no. 14, and posted an 84 on Tuesday. She finished the tournament with a 164 (+20).

Altogether, Saint Leo paced all 13 teams in the field with 32 birdies, and were second with 114 pars. The Lions also recorded the lowest stroke average on par 3s (E), par 4s (4.09, +9), and par 5s (4.98, -1).

"I'm really happy with our play this week," said Baker. "We played some exceptional golf from the first tee all the way through the end of the tournament."

Saint Leo returns to the course in two weeks when the squad heads to Puerto Rico to take part in the Island Getaway tournament, hosted by the University of Illinois at Springfield at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa.

"I'm excited for the tournament in Puerto Rico," said Eriksen, "and I think we'll be able to bring back another trophy."

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