Hogs' Fassi falls in playoff, but team moves on in SEC golf championships

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018
Maria Fassi, from the University of Arkansas, watches her drive off the 10th tee Friday, June 24, 2016 during the LPGA Wal-Mart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers. Fassi earned a spot in the tournament with a sponsors exemption.
Photo by Michael Woods
Maria Fassi, from the University of Arkansas, watches her drive off the 10th tee Friday, June 24, 2016 during the LPGA Wal-Mart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers. Fassi earned a spot in the tournament with a sponsors exemption.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Maria Fassi led a charge on Day 3 of the SEC championships for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but the junior came up just short of claiming medalists honors and her sixth tournament championship of the season Friday.

Fassi finished in a tie with South Carolina's Ainhoa Olarra for the individual championship and lost on the second hole of a playoff at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Hoover, Ala.

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Fassi fired a 3-under 69 to follow two rounds of 70 and finish at 7 under to lead the No. 3 Razorbacks into the match play portion of the championships as the No. 3 seed.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville shot the tournament's second-best round of 5-under 283 in the best scoring conditions of the week, and finished the third round at 11 over, behind No. 10 South Carolina (+3) and No. 1 Alabama (+8).

"We obviously got off to a rough start in round one, but we played some great golf the last two days," Arkansas Coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said, referencing the Razorbacks' 11-over 299 on Wednesday.

The Razorbacks will square off against No. 6 seed Florida (+32) in the quarterfinals at 8 a.m. today on the Legacy Course at Greystone. The SEC this year adopted a match play format for the final three rounds of the championship to reflect the NCAA championship format.

"I really love our lineup against them," Estes-Taylor said, adding that she and assistant coach Mike Adams did a load of studying on match-ups. "We did a lot of research last night once we figured out who we were going to play and how we were going to put our people out. I feel we match up really well. I feel like we're coming off two great days of solid golf with a great game plan for this golf course."

The other pairings are South Carolina vs. No. 8 seed Missouri (+43), Alabama vs. No. 7 seed Vanderbilt (+35), and No. 4 seed Georgia (+31) vs. No. 5 seed Auburn (+32). The match play semifinals will take place this afternoon, and the final will start at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Arkansas started hot and surged ahead of Alabama into second place in the morning, but the Crimson Tide responded with the tournament's best round of 6 under.

Arkansas junior Dylan Kim fired her second 73 in a row and finished at even-par 216 to tie for fourth place with Alabama's Cheyenne Knight.

Senior Alana Uriell had her best round of the tournament with a 70 to move up to a tie for 15th. Junior Cara Gorlei shot a 1-under 71 to post the Razorbacks' final counting score and finish 46th, and junior Kaylee Benton had a 2-over 74 to tie for 49th.

Fassi won medalist honors at the Mason Rudolph Championship, the ANNIKA Intercollegiate, the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, and the Evans-Derby Experience this year. The native of Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico, birdied four of the first five holes to reach 8 under, then rolled in her fifth birdie at the par 5 No. 11 to reach 5 under for the day and 9 under for the tournament.

"Maria does Maria," Estes-Taylor said. "She's always very solid. When she's in contention, you can see her competitiveness shine through."

Fassi gave back shots with bogeys on Nos. 12, 14 and 16, but finished the par-5 No. 18 with her sixth birdie of the day to clinch the tie with Olarra.

Sports on 04/21/2018

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