ORLANDO, Fla. -- With three players shooting even-par or better, the Auburn women's golf team used a 2-under-par final round to jump to a third-place finish at the UCF Challenge, which concluded Tuesday at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
The Tigers' final round of 286 (-2) moved them to a final score of 878 (+14), vaulting them from seventh place to third place on the final day. It marks the best team finish of the season for Auburn.
"I told them there was a theme evident from the first two rounds," Auburn head coach Melissa Luellen said, "that each player showed the ability to bounce back from adversity. It was a real pleasure to observe the group play solid, smart golf with difficult final-round hole locations. It feels so good to have a really solid last round. I like seeing the improvement each round."
Sophomore Elena Hualde led the way with a 69 (-3) in Tuesday's final round, one of just four rounds in the 60s in the entire field. Starting on the eighth hole, she was bogey-free through her first 15 holes with birdies at 16, 17 and 4. A bogey at the fifth was her only blemish on the day, but she got that stroke back with birdie at No. 7 to finish off her round. She moved up to a tie for ninth place with scores of 76-73-69=218 (+2), her second top-10 finish of the year.
Senior Kelli Murphy also earned her second top-10 of the year, tying with Hualde for ninth at 218 (+2) after a final-round 72. It was her second even-par round of the week. She made a pair of bogeys on her first six holes and was 2-over through 13 holes. But birdies on two of her final five holes brought her back to level par.
Freshman Julie McCarthy finished off her first collegiate tournament on a high note with an even-par 72 that included three birdies and three bogeys. She finished in a tie for 44th at 9-over. Freshman Mychael O'Berry shot a final-round 73 to finish at 8-over for the week, tied for 37th. And the Tigers' third freshman, Kaleigh Telfer, finished in a tie for 29th at 7-over after her final-round 76. Playing as an individual, sophomore Kayley Marschke tied for 37th at 8-over after shooting 76 (+4) Tuesday.
Miami won the tournament at 868 (+4) with East Carolina four shots back at 872 (+8). Miami's Dewi Weber was the individual medalist at 209 (-7), six shots clear of the field.
Several Auburn individuals will compete next Sunday at the Reynolds Lake Oconee Individual Collegiate Championship in Eatonton, Ga. The next team competition is March 3-5 at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Final results from the UCF Challenge, hosted by Central Florida at Eagle Creek Golf Club (par 72, 6,349 yards) in Orlando, Fla.:
1. Miami -- 868 (+4)
2. East Carolina -- 872 (+8)
3. Auburn -- 878 (+14)
T4. Vanderbilt -- 880 (+16)
T4. Wisconsin -- 880 (+16)
6. Iowa State -- 881 (+17)
7. UCF -- 883 (+19)
8. Mississippi State -- 885 (+21)
T9. Penn State -- 888 (+24)
T9. SMU -- 888 (+24)
11. Texas Tech -- 889 (+25)
12. Old Dominion -- 890 (+26)
T13. College of Charleston -- 906 (+42)
T13. Memphis -- 906 (+42)
15. UNC Wilmington -- 912 (+48)
16. Tulane -- 916 (+52)
T9. Elena Hualde -- 76-73-69=218 (+2)
T9. Kelli Murphy -- 72-74-72=218 (+2)
T29. Kaleigh Telfer -- 77-70-76=223 (+7)
T37. Mychael O'Berry -- 75-76-73=224 (+8)
*T37. Kayley Marschke -- 76-72-76=224 (+8)
T44. Julie McCarthy -- 76-77-72=225 (+9)