Women’s Golf: Vanderbilt rebounds, takes sixth place at Gamecock Intercollegiate

The Hustler caught up with head coach Greg Allen to debrief his team’s performance this week in South Carolina.

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Hunter Long

Vanderbilt women’s golf competes in the 2019 season. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long).

Justin Hershey and Kavi Jakes

Following a disappointing trip to Gainesville last week, the Vanderbilt Commodores bounced back with a sixth place finish in the 18-team Gamecock Intercollegiate tournament (Mar. 1-3) this week.

A stretch of uncharacteristic weather in Nashville left the Commodores unprepared for the Gator Invitational just last week. But with the snow melted and his entire team back together at practice, head Coach Greg Allen thought his team was far more prepared for its event this week in South Carolina.

The field featured more than 10 ranked opponents, according to the Women’s Collegiate Golf Coaches Poll, and Allen was pleased with how his team stacked up against some of the nation’s best. 

“I told the girls, ‘that field is as strong if not stronger than what we are going to see at an NCAA regional in 10 weeks in May,’” Allen told the Hustler. “It was a gutsy finish to get inside that top six yesterday, kind of like a trial run for what a regional is going to feel like. Just a really good learning opportunity for us knowing that every single shot counts when the field is that stacked.”

Vanderbilt sat in the middle of the pack after a day-one total of 291 (+3) and impending weather forced a long second day of golf. Tee times were moved up, and the field was pushed to play 27 holes on Tuesday, allowing for a short nine-hole final round on Wednesday.

“For us, we know it’s going to be a long, long day. We talk a lot about patience,” Allen said. “We just talk about it being a marathon, not a sprint. I told them, ‘if you are playing well on the first eighteen, you just want to keep playing.’ And sometimes, when you aren’t playing well that first eighteen—like we were doing—finishing that first eighteen is like a reset button.”

A score of 300 (+12) in round 2 prohibited Vanderbilt from moving up the leaderboard. But a week’s best 289 (+1) final round saw Allen’s squad jump over both Georgia and Mississippi State en route to the sixth-place finish.

Following a disappointing second round 77 (+7), it was Celina Sattelkau who led the final round charge for Vanderbilt. She tallied four birdies, including two on par threes, helping her total a two-under 70 and secure her third consecutive top-ten finish this spring. 

“Celina Sattelkau has—for me anyway—been the surprise of college golf. That young lady didn’t really play but two tournaments, never got in our lineup as a freshman and to come out this year and be firing on all cylinders [is impressive],” Allen said of his sophomore.

Unsurprisingly, Auston Kim was another catalyst behind Vanderbilt’s solid performance. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur qualifier finished tied for sixth in the field with consistent rounds of 70, 74 and 72.

Kim led all golfers in par five scoring for the tournament, shooting nine-under across twelve holes. Allen identified Kim’s distance off the tee as the key to her par five performance and noted that Kim may have finished even higher on the tournament leaderboard if not for her eleven three-putts.  

“Auston’s strength for sure is that she is really long off the tee and she can get to a lot of these par fives in two,” Allen said. “She did make a lot of birdies. The thing that cost her from maybe winning the golf tournament was her [play] on the greens. She didn’t putt particularly well.”

The dual success of Sattelkau and Kim is promising for Vanderbilt. Allen referenced healthy competition between the two as a potential catalyst for team improvement over the course of the season.

“Auston doesn’t like to lose, period,” Allen said. “She doesn’t like to lose to anybody on our team and so when she’s got a teammate beating her now, for those two to kind of plug along and try to beat each other, that’s going to elevate our team and make us all better.”

The Commodores’ performance against a strong field in the Gamecock Intercollegiate indicates that the team is ready to make a leap. Allen thinks that the upcoming weeks ahead of Vanderbilt’s next tournament, the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, will allow them to do just that.

“We aren’t far off from being one of those teams that can be in contention with a few holes left,” Allen said. “So I’m excited about these two weeks at home and having a chance to get back to team practice.”