Texas State picks up fourth win at Claud Jacobs Intercollegiate
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The Claud Jacobs Intercollegiate Challenge went to a playoff. And, once again, Krista Puisite was involved.
Unfortunately for the Texas State junior, Monday's sudden death playoff featured the hole she had the most trouble with all weekend: The 489-yard, par-5 18th.
University of Louisiana-Monroe sophomore Ali Lucas sank a short birdie putt at No. 18 on the second playoff hole to win the tournament over reigning champion Puisite.
"I was pretty excited. I knew all I had to do was two putt from four feet. I wasn't nervous or anything," Lucas said. "I really wanted to make it. Par is good, but birdie is better. You want to beat your opponent. You don't want them to lose to you."
Tournament organizers gave Lucas and Puisite an opportunity to split the championship, when both the former shot a 76 and the latter shot 77 to both finish with an 8-over-par 224. Both women scoffed at that notion and wanted to settle the winner on the course.
On the first playoff hole, the par-5 first hole, Lucas' potentially winning birdie putt was inches left of the hole. Before that, Puisite narrowly missed a birdie putt that would have put pressure on Lucas to respond.
Monday's victory was the first collegiate victory for the sophomore from Crowley, La.
Puisite said she played well on the first playoff hole, but she was unable to continue that momentum when they returned to No. 18.
"The first shot was awful. I thought 'OK I can still get a par.'" Puisite recalled. "Then the second one was in the woods and the third was over there. It all came down to the short game. I didn't get it. The other girl, she made a birdie. It was a good birdie, she deserved it."
The last time Lucas was in a playoff was in the 2010 Louisiana High School Athletic Association boys state tournament. Lucas believed wound up third at the time because of her short game and being overly aggressive on the course.
"I think I had 85 puts in three days. I was pretty happy with my putting, so I wasn't nervous," Lucas said. "In this tournament, I have hit much better in the past than I did in this tournament, but I got up and down I don't know how many times. Sunday I only hit 16 greens (in 36 holes) and I got up and down from everywhere."
Texas State won the team tournament for the fourth year in a row with a 37-over par 901. The Bobcats were the only school that collectively shot below 300, and they accomplished that feat in the second and third rounds.
Krista Puisite's second round and Iman Nordin's final round were two of the three rounds under par in the entire tournament. Puisite shot a 70 Sunday, while the freshman Nordin shot a 1-under-par 71 Monday morning. Western Illinois sophomore Kristi Tschudin shot a final round 71.
Iowa and Missouri tied for second with a 934. Lucas, and the rest of the Warhawks, finished six shots behind the two Midwestern schools.
The University of Houston Victoria progressively shot better as the tournament progressed. In Monday's final round the Jaguars shot a 65-over-par 353, which was eight shots better than their second round performance.
The Jaguars, the only NAIA school in the 17-team field, finished with a three-day aggregate score of 1086. Junior Lyndie Smith shot a team-low 85 Monday. Smith's performance was the lowest round posted by a Jaguar the entire tournament.
Texas State head coach Mike Akers said his team's familiarity with the 6,087 yard course and the addition of Nordin and fellow freshman Lejan Lewthwaite have made the Bobcats a better program.
"I think normally we wouldn't be as prepared for the wet course, but we have had a lot of rain up in San Marcos, so we've actually practiced rain or shine," Akers said. "Sometimes they are not happy with that, but I said we are going to play or practice unless there are conditions that would cancel a tournament. We practice in the cold and the wet and we were prepared."