PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (May 13, 2018) – North Carolina A&T’s second season of women’s golf was impressive enough to make the third season eagerly anticipated.
The Aggies finished third at the 2018 PGA Minority Championship at the par-72, 5,801-yard Ryder Golf Course at the PGA Village on Sunday as the tournament concluded with nine holes played on the front nine after the teams played nine emergency holes Saturday to avoid the potential of inclement weather.
Women’s golf ends its season with two tournament wins, five second-place finishes and two more third-place finishes. That is not a bad assemblage for a university that did not have a golf program three years ago.
“Today is an example of how this year has gone,” said N.C. A&T coach Richard Watkins. “We have made really good strides all year long. It seems like every place we played this spring we finished second. We were not finishing as high as second place last year so it is a huge positive to see where we have progressed.”
The Aggies finished 11 strokes behind Incarnate Word with a 941 score. Bethune-Cookman won the tournament by posting a 903. Delaware State (993) and Texas A&M University-Kingsville (997) rounded out the top-5. On the last day of the season, women’s golf achieved two of their preseason goals. They finished in the top-3 of the minority championships and they had a round where every score that counted was in the 70’s.
“I’m not satisfied and they’re not,” said Watkins. “We wanted to do better. We have the capabilities of doing better. But to have four scores in the 70’s is a really good sign for the direction we’re going.”
The Aggies shot a 20-over 308 in their final round but could not creep into second-place because Incarnate Word shot an 11-over 299.
“We shot 308 today and that’s a good number for us right now,” said Watkins. “Unfortunately, the team we were trying to catch did a little better. One of the things I like about the most is you can only control what you do. Don’t think about what everybody else is doing, you just do your job.”
In her final collegiate tournament, senior Sofia Alvarez finished fifth. It was her seventh top-10 finish of the season and her fourth top-5 finish. Alvarez will always be a historic figure in N.C. A&T Athletics as she became the first golfer in school history to win a varsity tournament when she won the Hampton University Invitational in September.
Alvarez shot an even-par 36 on the front nine Sunday to finish the tournament at 11-over 227, 11 shots behind tournament winner Mackenzie Butzer of Bethune-Cookman and one shot behind fourth-place finisher Ana Candela Ferreyra-Heit of Delaware State. Alvarez had one birdie on the front nine, which occurred on the par-5, 456-yard fourth hole.
Also, playing in her final collegiate tournament was Jill Harvison. Harvison finished 13th after firing off a final-round 80. Harvison and Alvarez were the pillars of one of the newest varsity programs in N.C. A&T Athletics. Harvison finished last season with the lowest scoring average on the team.
“They put A&T in a good place from day one,” said Watkins. “We attracted more quality players because we already had two quality players playing here. I don’t think what we say about them today is going to be as important as what we say about them next year and the year after that and the year after that. They were beneficial to the program on the course but even more beneficial in ways people probably don’t even think of. Their benefit to the team goes much further than the scores they shot. They made A&T attractive for female golfers.”
That appeal makes seasons three, four, five and beyond look even more appealing. Sophomore Jocelyn Andrews emphasizes that point after she closed the season on a tear. She had a top-10 finish at the PGA Minority Championship aided by a first-round 77 and a third-round 77. She was 20-over for the tournament to finish 10th.
Freshman Madison Harriman also had a solid season and junior Bo Young Park could figure into the mix next season after having a superb junior season. Harriman shot a 78 and Park shot a 79 in their respective final rounds to help the Aggies meet their goal of having four players shoot in the 70's for a round. The Aggies added a recruit and still have emerging golfers Erica Jackson and Deja Smith on the roster.