Oct. 23, 2011
Knoxville, Tenn. --- Marta Silva Zamora equaled the second-best round in school history – a 6-under 66 – in Sunday's final round of the Mercedes-Benz SEC/PAC-12 Challenge. That effort helped the 15th-ranked Bulldogs climb from 10th to a seventh-place finish.
Georgia closed with a 3-over 291 as a team and wrapped up at 888. The Challenge, which completed the 2011 portion of the Bulldogs' schedule, featured a packed field with eight top-10 and 15 top-25 teams.
Silva Zamora's round tied her career-best loop at Georgia and was a stroke shy of the school record Vicki Goetze produced in the final round of the 1992 NCAA Championships.
"Marta was Marta," head coach Kelley Hester said. "It was was a great way to finish the fall, and it really could have been three or even four shots better."
The Bulldogs also counted a 2-under 70 from Emilie Burger, a 77 from Rocio Sanchez Lobato and a 78 from Tess Fordham, while dropping Milena Savich's 80.
"I don't think you ever enter a tournament hoping to finish seventh, but given the circumstances, we'll take it," Hester said. "We were 17th after the first day and moved forward each round to finish seventh. We definitely had some positives this weekend. We had some very low numbers with Milena's 67 (on Saturday) and Marta's 66. Emilie was very, very solid once again, Rocio had a gutty performance playing with an injured wrist all weekend, and Tess had some late birdies today that were very important for us."
Silva Zamora teed off at No. 8 with a shotgun start and bogeyed No. 9. She then recorded birdies at No. 10, No. 11, No. 12, No. 14, No. 15 and No. 17 to move to 5-under through just 10 holes. After seven consecutive pars, the reigning National Player of the Year closed with a birdie at No. 7.
No. 6 Alabama captured the team title after a 292 that pushed the Crimson Tide to 865. No. 1 UCLA was second at 869 and rounding out the top-10 teams were No. 2 Auburn at 879, No. 10 Southern Cal and Tennessee at 880, No. 7 Vanderbilt at 887, the Bulldogs at 888, No. 12 Florida at 893, No. 22 Arizona at 894 and No. 8 Arizona State and No. 9 Washington both at 895.
Alabama's Stephanie Meadow claimed medalist honors at 5-under 211, two shots better than Vanderbilt's Lauren Stratton.
For Georgia, Silva Zamora climbed from 52nd entering the day to a tie for seventh at 1-over 217. Burger tied for 18th at 218, Savich tied for 24th at 220, Sanchez Lobato tied for 95th at 235 and Fordham tied for 113th at 246.
Savich entered the day just a stroke off the individual lead.
"Milena struggled today," Hester said. "It's been a while since she's been in that position, but I expect her to be in the hunt again in the spring."
The Bulldogs finished the fall with fourth-, sixth-, seventh and 13th-place showings. The 13th came at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview, a tournament including all of the nation's top teams competing on the same layout that will host the 2012 NCAA Championships.
"We haven't had that really strong tournament – that breakthrough tournament – where everything clicks and everyone plays well," Hester said. "We didn't have a bad tournament. We were fairly consistent. We've played a very difficult schedule. I would venture to say we've played perhaps the most difficult schedule in the country.
"We started slow a couple of times but then played better and finished climbing on the field," Hester said. "Those are the same type of qualities you need when you're in contention to win and hopefully that's where we'll be come spring. I do feel like it's coming, and we're on the right path to do some great things with this group. We need to settle on a fifth spot and find someone who can consistently help us there. That's something that's going to be key."
Georgia will open its 2012 slate at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 12-14.
Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge
Holston Hill Country Club
Par 72; 6447 Yard
Sunday's Final-Round Standings
Southern Cal 298-295-287=880
Arizona State 300-301-294=895
Ole Miss 301-294-303=898
South Carolina 310-305-293=908
Oregon State 313-300-308=921
Washington State 312-309-307=928
Mississippi State 317-310-305=932
Stephanie Meadow, Alabama 68-71-72=211
Lauren Stratton, Vanderbilt 68-72-73=213
Kaitlyn Rohrback, Tennessee 71-72-71=214
Marta Sanz, Auburn 74-71-69=214
Erynne Lee, UCLA 70-73-72=215
SooBin Kim, Washington 73-75-68=216
Marta Silva Zamora, Georgia 76-75-66=217
Ashleigh Albrecht, Kentucky 70-74-73=217
Stephanie Kono, UCLA 69-74-74=217
Lee Lopez, UCLA 71-75-71=217
Nathalie Mansson, Tennessee 73-67-78=217
Lisa McCloskey, Southern Cal 74-72-71=217
Giulia Molinaro, Arizona State 72-70-75=217
Kristen Park, Southern Cal 76-73-68=217
Mia Piccio, Florida 73-72-72=217
Emily Tubert, Arkansas 75-69-73=217
Carlie Yacloczky, Auburn 72-73-72=217
T18. Emilie Burger, Georgia 74-74-70=218
T24. Milena Savich, Georgia 73-67-80=220
T95. Rocio Sanchez Lobato, Georgia 82-86-77=235
T113. Tess Fordham, Georgia 82-76-78=246