The No. 6-ranked Georgia women’s golf team dropped a 3.5-1.5 decision to No. 5 Alabama in the semifinals of the 44th annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic on Saturday.
The Bulldogs, who defeated Purdue by the same score earlier in the day, will face No. 2-ranked Southern Cal in the third-place match Sunday morning beginning at 8:40 a.m. on hole No. 1 at the UGA Golf Course.
“This morning was a good win,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “Purdue is a really good team. They’ll be one of the teams that plays for a national championship. It was a solid win and a good performance throughout the lineup. It helped us get past the jitters of being a favorite playing at home.”
The Crimson Tide jumped out to early leads in four of five matchups, including nine-hole leads of 5-up in two matches and a 4-up margin in another. Georgia closed the gap on the back side but could not overcome those deficits.
“Hats off to Alabama,” Brewer said. “Through about the first six holes of every match they just got on top of us. We tried to make it interesting at the end, but we were just too far behind and they’re too good of a team. We’ve just got to learn from this, as a group from the coaches through the players.”
In the morning, Harang Lee and Rinko Mitsunaga were first on and off the course and gave Georgia a 2-0 lead against Purdue. Lee bested Linn Andersson, 4-and-3, while Mitsunaga defeated Marta Martin, 3-and-2. The Boilermakers grabbed a point with August Kim’s 5-and-4 decision over Isabella Skinner.
Rallies by Bailey Tardy and Jillian Hollis were key to the Bulldogs’ win.
Covadonga SanJuan led Tardy, 1-up through nine holes. Tardy tied the match with a birdie at No. 10. Tardy gained her first lead since No. 2 when she won No. 14 but SanJuan pulled back to all-square at No. 15. Tardy then captured No. 16, No. 17 and No. 18 to win 3-and-1.
Anna Appert Lund was 3-up on Hollis through eight holes before she won No. 9, No. 11 and No. 14 to pull back to all-square. After halving No. 15 and No. 16 the match was suspended when Tardy clinched the victory ahead on No. 18.
Lee secured Georgia’s lone win in the afternoon, a 5-and-4 win over Lakareber Abe.
“Harang did what she’s really done for us all year,” Brewer said. “She has been a leader for us. She finished second in medal play and won both of her matches pretty easily today. We needed it. Hopefully, she can finish off the weekend strong tomorrow. Jillian played well. She didn’t finish either match but had a chance to win coming down the stretch.”
Despite the disappointment of Saturday’s setback, Brewer believes the Bulldogs have much to play for on Sunday.
“If you’re going to play for a national championship, you’re play two matches and then you play one,” Brewer said. “Even though tomorrow is for third place, we’ve got to get ourselves up and motivated. I think it will help that we’re playing one of the most storied programs in women’s golf. We’re trying to get to their level.”