- Daniel Hooker
WCU Women’s Golf Rallies for Fourth Win of Historic 2022-23 Season
Western Carolina women’s golf put four individuals inside the tournament’s final Top 10, rallying from a six-stroke deficit entering Tuesday’s final round to score a five-stroke victory – the program’s fourth team championship in a historic 2022-23 season – winning the Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate, hosted by rival Appalachian State at the par-72, 6,213-yard Mimosa Hills Golf Club.
True freshman Brie Mapanao collected her second runner-up finish of the season to pace the Catamount scoring five with Kaitlyn Wingnean advancing a spot for a sixth-place finish. Sophomore Elizabeth Lohbauer moved up three spots with senior Victoria Ladd helping spur Tuesday’s rally by climbing 11 positions over the final 18 holes to match Lohbauer in an eighth-place tie.
WCU’s team win was it's fourth of the season as the Catamounts opened 2022-23 with three-consecutive first-place finishes in the fall portion of the schedule. Tuesday’s victory marked its first win of the spring half. The Catamounts have finished inside the Top 10 in all nine events to date this season, tallying seven podium – or top-three – finishes including four wins, two runner-up finishes, and one third-place showing.
Atop the individual leaderboard after 36 holes, Mapanao battled through a 4-over par final round to come home with the runner-up hardware. The Australian-born striker opened Tuesday with a birdie and played at 1-under through the first five holes. Bogeys on three of the final four holes on the front had her making the turn at 2-over par. Mapanao had three bogeys against five pars and a second birdie on the back nine for the 4-over par round of 76 and a total of 218.
Mapanao was second in the tournament field with 10 birdies and paced the field in par-5 scoring at 4-under (4.67).
Wingnean matched her first-round score of 3-over par 75 on Tuesday, carding 14 total pars. Two bogeys on the front nine left her turning for home at 2-over par. A double-bogey on the par-5 12th left her at 4-over for the round before she closed with a birdie on her 54th hole, advancing one spot over the final round. Wingnean led the field in par-3 scoring (3.08, +1)
Two of WCU’s biggest gainers and a big reason why the squad hoisted the championship hardware were the final rounds of Lohbauer, who moved up three positions, and Ladd, who climbed 11 spots over the final 18 holes as the duo finished amidst a four-way tie for eighth. Lohbauer had four bogeys with 14 pars in a final-round 76 while Ladd posted her best tournament round of 2-over par 74. The senior from Greensboro carded a pair of birdies to make the turn for home at 2-under par. Seven of her 14 pars were carded on the back nine against consecutive double-bogeys for the 2-over round, finishing with Lohbauer at 228.
Rounding out WCU’s scoring five was fifth-year senior Madison Isaacson, up two spots into a tie for 26th overall with a three-round score of 233. Isaacson countered eight bogeys with three birdies for the 5-over par round of 77. The Greensboro native had seven birdies in the penultimate event of the regular season.
As a team, the Catamounts paced the field in both par-3 (3.25, +15) and par-4 (4.17, +26) scoring. WCU charted a tournament-best 163 pars over the 54-hole event and were second with 31 birdies
Playing unattached as an individual, redshirt sophomore Kayleigh Baker finished in a tie for 40th overall with a three-round score of 239. Baker collected her third birdie of the tournament on the par-3 sixth and countered five bogeys and a trio of double-bogeys with nine pars on Tuesday.
Georgia Southern’s Abby Newton rallied to the top of the individual leaderboard to collect medalist honors by two strokes over WCU’s Mapanao, 216-to-218.
WCU by-passed second-round leader Georgia Southern for the five-stroke victory, 889-to-904. Gardner-Webb finished third, 10-strokes off WCU’s winning pace at 909. SoCon-for Wofford came home fourth at 920 with mountain-rival UNC Asheville finishing fifth at 924.
Western Carolina now turns its attention to the 2023 Southern Conference Women’s Golf Championship to be held April 16-18, at the Moss Creek Golf Club on Hilton Head Island, S.C., as the champion-crowning event returns to the South Carolina course for the first time since 2019. Sixth at last year’s tournament, WCU has twice won the SoCon Championship, doing so back in 2003 and most recently in 2007.
1 – Western Carolina – 302 – 296 – 301 = 899 (+13)
2 – Brie Mapanao (1) – 71 – 71 – 76 = 218 (+2)
6 – Kaitlyn Wingnean (5) – 75 – 76 – 75 = 226 (+10)
T8 – Victoria Ladd (4) – 79 – 75 – 74 = 228 (+12)
T8 – Elizabeth Lohbauer (3) – 78 – 74 – 76 = 228 (+12)
T26 – Madison Isaacson (2) – 78 – 78 – 77 = 233 (+17)
T40 – Kayleigh Baker (ind.) – 78 – 79 – 82 = 239 (+23)