Feb. 18, 2014
LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. - A day after tying MSU's single-round record, senior Allyssa Ferrell established the best 54-hole score in school history with a 9-under-par 207 (71-67-69) and tied for first place as the Central District Invitational concluded Tuesday at the Cypress Links Course at Lakewood Ranch.
No. 15 Vanderbilt edged No. 18 UCF by one stroke, 844-845, to win the team title. The Knights led nearly the entire tournament until the Commodores rallied with less than three holes to go to take the lead.
The host Spartans took third place after shooting the lowest 54-hole score in program history with a 15-under 849 (288-278-283), shattering the previous record of 860 set at the 2009 Tar Heel Invitational.
During the tournament, Michigan State set new school records for the lowest 18-hole team score (278), lowest 54-hole team score (849) and lowest 54-hole individual score (Ferrell, 207), while matching the lowest 18-hole individual score (Ferrell, 67).
MSU's round of 283 (-5) on Tuesday tied for the third lowest in the school record book.
"I don't think the golf course is by any means easy," said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. "I think it's a tribute to women's golf. I think as the years go by, the scores are getting lower and lower. If you look to the future of the LPGA Tour, we've got to get our players used to posting numbers under-par now. I think the more they can do this, the more they can know they're capable and the easier that transition is going to be for them.
"I saw great iron play today, lots of birdie attempts, and obviously many birdies went in. So many teams made so many great birdies. For us, it's letting our kids know what they're really capable of. I think that's the main lesson from this. Obviously for all of us, it just felt great being in the sun and playing golf. We're playing golf in perfect conditions. It's 80 degrees, a slight breeze, a beautiful course and all the host families that are there to support us. It's just fun.
"The team was so excited last night that we shot the school record (for a single round). They were thrilled. Those things are always in the back of their minds as athletes. And for Allyssa, it's an awesome honor. It's one more step for us in the right direction."
Ferrell tied for first place along with Vanderbilt's Simin Feng, who also carded a 9-under 207 (67-69-71), but Feng was officially awarded medalist honors due to a scorecard playoff; Feng birdied the par-5 18th, while Ferrell shot par. The 9-under 207 also marked the lowest 54-hole score in the 14-year history of the Central District Invitational.
Ferrell and Feng were in the same group for Tuesday's third round. Ferrell took a one-shot lead over Feng after making a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th, which was her fourth birdie in seven holes. Ferrell just missed a seven-footer on the 18th to clinch the outright victory, while Feng sank her birdie putt.
For the first time in the tournament's 14-year history, the Central District Invitational was held at the par 72, 6,325-yard Cypress Links Course at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. Michigan State has been hosting the event every February since 2002 after running the inaugural CDI in October 2000. Vanderbilt's team score of 20-under 844 (276-287-281) was the lowest in the history of the tournament (previous: 857 by Florida in 2010).
Two other Spartans placed in the top 10, as seniors Christine Meier and Liz Nagel each carded a 3-under 213 to tie for 10th. The 54-hole total of 213 is a career low for both golfers and stands as the eighth-lowest score in MSU history. Meier shot a 2-under 70 in Tuesday's final round, while Nagel was even-par (72).
Freshman Kelly Grassel also posted the lowest score of her young career with an even-par 216 (74-70-72) to tie for 18th.
Michigan State will return to Florida for its annual spring break trip during the first week of March. The Spartans' next tournament is set for March 28-30 in Greensboro, N.C., for the Bryan National Collegiate.