Windy and challenging conditions greeted the women golfers Sunday in the final round of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championship at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
Despite the circumstances, Burroughs High graduate and University of Arkansas sophomore Emily Tubert was able to battle through the conditions and help the Razorbacks to a second-place finish. Tubert fired a final-round 73 to finish third overall, leading No. 36 Arkansas to a runner-up finish in the event.
The Razorbacks finished the round with dramatic flair, nearly forcing a playoff after regulation. The lead see-sawed most of the day between the Razorbacks, No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Auburn, which were all paired together for the final round.
Arkansas had as much as a six-stroke lead with three holes to play, but the Razorbacks were 11-over coming into the clubhouse. Auburn was plus-seven in the same stretch, hanging on to win with a par putt by the Tigers’ final player on 18.
"[Sunday] was the hardest I’ve ever seen the golf course play,” said Tubert of Blessings, the Razorbacks’ home course. “We had 25-30 mph constant winds with gusts up to about 40. It’s a really hard golf course anyway and it’s always a challenge, but adding in those winds and it was tough.”
The Razorbacks also finished second overall in 2008 and tied for second in 2009.
Arkansas finished the day shooting a 25-over 313 in some of the toughest conditions Arkansas Shauna Estes-Taylor said has seen at the golf course. The winds impacted players’ drives off the tees and also moved balls on the very fast greens in the final round.
Despite that, the Razorbacks were in the hunt until the final putt, finishing with a three-day 917 with rounds of 309-295-313.
The Tigers won the event with a final round 313 for 916. Five of the 12 SEC teams shot 313 on the last day. Arkansas was second with 917 followed by No. 2 Alabama with 922.
Tubert rallied from a first-day 78 shooting 70-73 for a 221, just two strokes behind medalist Patricia Sanz from Auburn. Tubert turned even and finished the day with three birdies and four bogeys Sunday.
“I was pretty happy with the way I played the second two days, but that first day was pretty uncharacteristic of the way I usually play,” Tubert said. “I wasn’t really nervous but my mind was going a million miles an hour starting off that first day. But I was able to hang in there and then I started playing better on Saturday.”
Despite coming into the tournament ranked ninth in the conference, Arkansas was able to notch the runner-up result. However, on their home course, Tubert said the Razorbacks wanted to capture the conference title.
“It was disappointing for us to lose by one shot on our home turf,” she said. “We were hoping for the win, of course, but we fought really hard. But it still stings a little bit.”
The Razorbacks now await word of a likely selection to the NCAA Regional Championships at one of three possible sites. NCAA Regionals begin May 10-12, at either Penn State for the East, Ohio State for the Central or Colorado Nationals Golf Club for the West.