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BLOG: Maria's Trip to NCAA South/Southeast Region

by Lauren Ressler, Head Women's Golf Coach

Hello again!  I wanted to take the chance to write about Maria's trip (and playoff) in Florida!  Enjoy!

In addition to the team accomplishments made throughout the 2008-09 season, Maria Luz Besio capped a banner year with a postseason appearance!  She qualified for the South/Southeast Regional Tournament based on her 77.0 stroke average and seven top 10 finishes throughout the year.  The tournament was held at the Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort outside of Orlando and featured nine teams and four individual qualifiers.  Upon arriving in Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida, Maria played well.  After opening round rounds of 71-76 which included several back nine birdies, Maria was in great shape to be one of the three individual qualifiers to the NCAA National Tournament in Findlay, Ohio.

A shaky start to the final round did not deter or intimidate Maria.  She played a strong final nine to finish tied for sixth place overall.  After a round of 72 from fellow individual qualifier Daniela Iacobelli from Florida Tech, Maria was in a playoff!  Maria had played in the first group of the day and since the playoff could not start until all of the teams finished, we waited and watched.  After a delicious lunch in the clubhouse, it was announced that the sudden death playoff would begin on the 18th hole at 3:45.  The 18th hole, while picturesque, does not suit Maria’s ball flight well as the long par 4 bends gradually around a lake from left to right.  Maria likes to work the ball from right to left.  This means the perfect drive starts over the water and comes back to the fairway.

Maria warmed up hitting drivers and iron shots on the range.  After a few putts around the practice green she was ready to take on Daniela.  As we drove out to the 18th tee, Maria was excited but focused.  She wanted to win! 

Maria’s first drive headed left but rolled through a fairway bunker.  As we approached her ball, we realized she would have an awkward stance with one foot out of the bunker and another in.  She selected a six iron and picked the ball off the ground and onto the front edge of the green.  It was an AWESOME shot!  Her 40 foot putt slid past the right edge of the hole.  Both players tied with par and returned to the 18th tee.  The second playoff hole was more precise.  Both players CRUSHED their drives down the center and hit it to 10 feet.  Neither was able to convert so they head back for another shot drive off the 18th tee.  Maria lost her drive to the right but got a lucky bounce as it rolled up the bank.  Her 9 iron was again on top of the flag while Daniela had to work hard to sink a five foot putt for an up and down par.  With a breaking 15 foot putt for birdie and the win, Maria hit a good one only to have it skim the edge.  The tie sent the playoff to another hole.  The fourth hole was the end of Maria’s 2008-09 season.  She lost her drive down the right.  The ball came to rest against a bush that did not let her advance the ball up the fairway.  After pitching out and watching Daneila hit the ball within 15 feet, the match was all but over. 

While the result of the playoff was disappointing, the trip was an amazing experience for both player and coach!  Watching Maria go shot for shot with one of the best players in Division II Women’s Golf was impressive.  I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Maria!  We certainly are lucky to have her at Newberry and cannot wait for her to be back in the fall!

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