Caterina Don broke Georgia’s single-round scoring record on Monday

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Caterina Don broke Georgia’s single-round scoring record on Monday

Georgia golfer Caterina Don during the final day of the Liz Murphey Fall Collegiate Classic at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga., on Sat., Nov. 8, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)
Georgia golfer Caterina Don during the final day of the Liz Murphey Fall Collegiate Classic at the UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga., on Sat., Nov. 8, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

Sophomore Caterina Don broke Georgia’s single-round scoring record on Monday, firing an 8-under 64 in the second round of the LTWF Heroes Intercollegiate at The Founder Club. Don’s effort headlined a banner day for the No. 6-ranked Bulldogs, who shot 11-under as team to equal the second-best team round in program history.

Overall, Georgia is in third place in the 15-team field at 4-under 572 through 36 holes, nine shots back of Ole Miss entering Tuesday’s final round.

“It was obviously a really good day,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We talked about yesterday about when we get under par, we have to react like a championship team would and continue to get ourselves further under par making more birdies and getting ourselves in position to earn a victory. We’re in the final group tomorrow. That’s where we wanted to be coming down here. Now we get a chance to hopefully put some pressure on the lead team and find ourselves in position to get our first win of the year.”

Georgia’s 11-under 277 was the low score in the field and was just two shots off the school record of 13-under in the second round the 2015 Mason Rudolph Championship. 

All four of the Bulldogs’ counting tallies on Monday were par-or-better scores, with Jo Hua Hung shooting 3-under 69 and both Jenny Bae and Celeste Dao carding 72s.

“About the fifth hole I knew that everyone was playing solid and really looking good,” Brewer said. “I knew we’d made a couple of birdies. I caught up with Caterina around No. 17 (her eighth hole) and saw she was already 5-under. At that point I thought maybe this is the day when everything lines up and we start playing the way we know we can. It just felt like we were hot and had a chance to have one of those days.”

Don’s 6-under tally broke the existing Georgia record of 7-under 65 shared by Vicki Goetze, who did so in the final round of the 1992 NCAA Championships, and current LPGA golfer Jillian Hollis, who posted the score in the third round of the 2018 PING/ASU Invitational. Ironically, both Goetze and Hollis shot 7-under on Arizona State’s Karsten Golf Course.

“It was a really special round by Caterina,” Brewer said. “When you shoot the school record at a place like Georgia with its history of great teams and great golfers, hat’s off to her. She’s been waiting for this kind of breakout moment, and she’s worked hard to get here. I’m really happy for her.”

Don opened her loop on the shotgun start with a birdie at No. 9. She notched consecutive birdies at Nos. 12-13 and again at Nos. 15-16 to move to 5-under through eight holes. On the front side, Don’s trio of birdies at Nos. 2-4 pushed her to 8-under, a stroke better than the Bulldogs’ best round ever. She wrapped up her day with a quartet of pars, including a 10-foot putt at No. 8, her final hole, to secure the school record.

“I was just trying to go as low as I could go,” Don said. “I knew we needed a great day as a team. I knew I was really hitting it well and made a couple of birdies early. There was a par-3, and I didn’t hit it well and put it in a tricky place. My chip went in for birdie, and I was like ‘Oh. OK. I’ll take that.’ After that, I was 4- or 5-under pretty early and thought to myself ‘Let’s just keep this going.” It was fun.”

Hung’s loop featured four birdies (at No. 4, No. 8, No. 10 and No. 18) along with a lone bogey at No. 12. Bae was incredibly steady throughout the day, mixing 16 pars with a birdie at No. 3 and a bogey at No. 15. Dao was 3-under through 13 holes, with birdies at No. 13, No. 1 an dNo. 4, before a double-bogey at No. 7 followed by a bogey at No. 8.

“To shoot the second-best team score in school history usually takes someone getting hot, but it also takes everyone else playing really well,” Brewer said. “Jo continues to have a very strong start to her spring, and Jenny, Caroline and Celeste have played well also. You don’t want to get greedy, but we have to have that same mindset every day.”

Don, who also shot 64 in the 2019 European Girls’ Team Championships in Spain, celebrated her round by returning to the team hotel in time to listen to a lecture for an Ecology course.

“She wanted go back and hear a lecture for her class,” Brewer said.

Ole Miss carded a 9-under score on Monday to remain atop the team leaderboard at 13-under 563. Oklahoma State is second at 567, followed by the Bulldogs at 572, Iowa State at 574, Texas Tech and Northwestern both at 581, Virginia Tech at 585, Clemson at 587, Purdue at 590 and Illinois at 594.

“I think today really showed how good we are as a team,” Don said. “We showed how low we can go, and we should have the confidence that we can go really, really low as a team on any day. We’ve worked so hard this past year, and it’s nice to see that pay off. I hope we showed we can be one of the best teams here and in the country if we play like we’re capable.”

Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark signed for second straight 66 to remain in the individual lead. She is two strokes ahead of Charley Jacobs from Iowa State. For Georgia, Don is fifth at 5-under, Hung is tied for sixth at 4-under, Bae is tied for 17th at 1-over and Craig and Dow are tied for 45th at 7-over.

Georgia will be paired with Ole Miss and Oklahoma State for Tuesday’s final round. Play is set to continue with an 8:00 a.m. shotgun start both days. The Bulldogs, Rebels and Cowgirls will tee from holes Nos. 1-4.

“We put ourselves in a position to try to post the low round tomorrow and catch the teams in front of us,” Brewer said. “We know we have the firepower to catch those teams or at least get close enough to put some pressure on them to see how they handle it. 

LTWF Heroes Intercollegiate

The Founders Club

Sarasota, Fla.

Par 72; 6281 Yards

Monday’s Second-Round Standings

Team Leaderboard

Ole Miss                                 284-279=563

Oklahoma State                           288-279=567

Georgia                                  295-277=572

Iowa State                               291-283=574

Texas Tech                               294-287=581

Northwestern                             292-289=581

Virginia Tech                            295-290=585

Clemson                                  294-293=587

Purdue                                   297-293=590

Illinois                                 301-293=594

N.C. State                               308-291=599

Tennessee                                298-302=600

Notre Dame                               314-295=609

Augusta                                  311-299=610

Minnesota                                322-296=618

Individual Leaderboard          

Maja Stark, Oklahoma St.                 66-66=132

Charley Jacobs, Iowa St.                 69-65=134

Julia Johnson, Ole Miss                  67-69=136

Kennedy Swann, Ole Miss                  68-69=137

Caterina Don, Georgia                    75-64=139

Jo Hua Hung, Georgia                     71-69=140

Crystal Wang, Illinois                   71-69=140

Emily Mahar, Virginia Tech               69-72=141

Ivy Shepard, Clemson                     72-70=142

Becca DiNunzio, Virginia Tech            75-68=143

Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Oklahoma St.   73-70=143

Irene Kim, Northwestern                  69-74=143

Additional Georgia Scores

T15. Jenny Bae                 73-72=145

T38. Caroline Craig            76-75=151

T59. Celeste Dao               79-72=151

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