UA's Fassi wins SEC championship

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2019
Maria Fassi tees off on the second hole during the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Saturday, April 6, 2019. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Maria Fassi tees off on the second hole during the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Saturday, April 6, 2019. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Maria Fassi made her first tournament win of the season a big one Friday, completing a comeback to capture medalist honors and lead the surging No. 6 University of Arkansas women's golf team into the match-play portion at the SEC championships.

Fassi, a senior from Pachuca, Mexico, shot a 1-under 71 on the 6,274-yard Legends course at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Hoover, Ala., to overtake second-round leader Marta Perez SanMartin of Florida in rainy, cold and windy conditions. Fassi, the runner-up at the SECs last season, finished with a 6 under for a four-stroke victory to claim her 10th individual title.

"It's amazing just winning the SEC championship," Fassi said. "We're one of the toughest conferences out there, and just being able to win and do it in tough conditions like there were today is just a great feeling.

"I knew that I had the capability to pull it off. I was just focusing on hitting good shots and trying to put up a good number."

Fassi gives Arkansas its third SEC individual champion, following Stacy Lewis in 2005 and 2008.

The Razorbacks completed stroke play in third place at 4 over and will take on No. 6 seed Auburn today to open match play at 7:50 a.m.

No. 12 Florida posted a team score of 8 over Friday but managed to post the only under-par finish at 1 under through three rounds. South Carolina earned the No. 2 seed with a 1 over team score.

Arkansas senior Kaylee Benton completed the day's low round with a birdie at No. 18 for a 3 under to finish in a tie for second place with SanMartin and Ole Miss' Julia Johnson at 2 under. Benton opened the day with a bogey but posted five birdies the rest of the round to surge into the three-way tie for second place.

Fassi, a winner of seven tournaments last season, lost SEC medalist honors in extra holes to South Carolina's Ainhoa Olarra on the same course last year.

"Oh my gosh, today was just tough," Arkansas Coach Shauna Taylor said. "Obviously with storms rolling in last night, I think we got 2 inches of rain, which made the conditions tough and very windy. I'm really proud of [Fassi's] play. Her round of golf today was unbelievable, considering the conditions we had."

The defending SEC champion Razorbacks posted the day's lowest round with a team score of 2-over 290.

Arkansas will enter match play with the No. 3 seed, the same spot from which the Razorbacks claimed the SEC title last year.

"It's just the first part of the mission is accomplished," Taylor said. "I feel like we did a fantastic job as a team and really ham and egged it well these first three days."

The rest of the eight-team bracket will pit No. 1 seed Florida against Ole Miss; No. 2 seed South Carolina against Mississippi State; and No. 4 seed Vanderbilt against Georgia.

The Razorbacks hung on to a below-par score longer than every other team Friday before slipping below even par on the back nine.

Senior Dylan Kim and freshman Ximena Gonzalez had matching 3-over 75s on Friday for the Razorbacks' other counting scores, while freshman Brooke Matthews carded a 6 over. Kim tied for 16th place at 4 over, while Gonzalez tied for 40th at 10 over, and Matthews, of Rogers, tied for 52nd at 13 over.

Fassi and fellow seniors Benton and Kim have the experience of playing three rounds of match play last year. Taylor chose to lead off with Fassi and Benton in the first two pairings, with Kim playing the anchor role behind Matthews and Gonzalez.

"I think we have a great team for match play," Fassi said. "We have a really strong five, which is great. Each of us has a different gaming style."

Sports on 04/20/2019

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