UT claims runner-up honors at Mercedes Championships

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Release) -- The Tennessee women's golf team fought a hard battle through the final round Sunday to finish as the runner-up of the 16th Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championships.

The Lady Vols finished four strokes off the lead, behind Penn State's 867 (+3).

"We actually played very well this weekend," head coach Judi Pavon said. "Our kids hung in there. We made some birdies toward the end to make sure that we at least finished second, which was good because we were quite further down during the day. I thought they played well and it was a really good tournament for us."

UT fell to as low as fifth, before fighting back to earn runner-up accolades.

Senior Sara Monberg led the Orange and White in the final round, as she shot 1-under par 71 to grab her first top-25 finish this season. Monberg ended the tournament in a tie for 15th.

After a shaky start, the Denmark native kicked her game up a notch to try to win the team title for Tennessee.

"I started off and I was really nervous. I got 3-over after three," Monberg said. "I birdied on 9 and 10 and was like `Alright, this is all for Tennessee right now.' I poured my heart out and I just played for a shot for Tennessee. It didn't really matter to me if I played good, I was really all about the team."

Monberg wrapped up her final round with four birdies, the most of any Lady Vol on the day.

"I think we found out how it is to play in tough greens," Monberg said. "Holston, even though we play out here all the time, the greens are so hard. We got to play good shots and we found out where we're losing and where we're winning."

Erica Popson concluded the tournament in a tie for fourth as she shot 1-over par 73 Sunday for a total of 214 (-2). She was three strokes off the title.

Chessey Thomas shot a final round 2-over par 74 to notch an 11th-place finish. She totaled 2-over 218 for the tournament.

AJ Newell carded on eagle on hole seven, the fourth-longest hole on the course. The sophomore rounded out the day at even-par, adding two birdies, to collect her first top-20 finish of the season.

Freshman Ashlee Pickerell shot 12-over 84 to finish in a tie for 78th.

Following Penn State and Tennessee in the team standings was Purdue, one stroke off UT (+8). Northwestern came in fourth (+10), followed by Texas A&M (+12), UTSA (+16) and Iowa State (+22) in the fifth through seventh slots. Florida State (+30), Furman (+33) and Mississippi State (+39) rounded out the top 10.

Purdue's Paula Reto earned medalist honors with a 211 (-5) card. Furman's Laura Wearn was one stroke out at 4-under, while Texas A&M's Mary Michael Maggio earned third at 3-under.

The Big Orange will have a week off before returning to action at the Alamo Invitational in San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 28-30.

1 Penn State 291-289-287=867 (+3)
2. Tennessee 292-289-290=871 (+7)
3. Purdue 293-291-288=872 (+8)
4. Northwestern 294-296-284=874 (+10)
5. Texas A&M 291-294-291=876 (+12)
6. UTSA 292-299-289=880 (+16)
7. Iowa State 298-298-290=886 (+22)
8. Florida State 294-308-292=894 (+30)
9. Furman 300-295-302=897 (+33)
10. Mississippi State 297-306-300=903 (+39)
11. East Carolina 302-303-309=914 (+50)
12. Miami 308-302-308=918 (+54)
13. James Madison 314-308-298=920 (+56)
14. Chattanooga 311-307-304=922 (+58)
15. Memphis 313-312-318=943 (+79)
16. Eastern Kentucky 323-329-320=972 (+108)

T4 Erica Popson Tennessee 70-71-73=214 (-2)
T11 Chessey Thomas Tennessee 75-69-74=218 (+2)
T15 Sara Monberg Tennessee 73-75-71=219 (+3)
T21 A.J. Newell Tennessee 74-74-72=220 (+4)
T69 Ashlee Pickerell Tennessee 84-77-84=245 (+29)

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