Camels win Big South title in record-breaking fashion

2017 Big South Conference Champions (from left): Anna Svanka, Annelie Sjoholm, Nadine White, Desiree Andersson, Ayelen Irizar, Head Coach John Crooks, Tahnia Ravnjak
(photo by Todd Drexler)
2017 Big South Conference Champions (from left): Anna Svanka, Annelie Sjoholm, Nadine White, Desiree Andersson, Ayelen Irizar, Head Coach John Crooks, Tahnia Ravnjak (photo by Todd Drexler)

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NINETY SIX, S.C. – With four golfers among the top 10 individuals, Campbell University won its second-straight Big South Conference women's golf championship Wednesday in record-breaking fashion at The Patriot Golf Club at Grand Harbor.

Coach John Crooks' Fighting Camels broke the league 54-hole championship mark with a school-record 15-under-par 849 (289-280-280) and defeated runner-up Gardner-Webb (298-285-291—874) by 25 strokes to earn the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Regional championship. 

The tournament title was the 81st for Crooks on the women's side – second among Division I active coaches behind Duke's Dan Brooks (127) – and  moved him into a tie for third all-time among NCAA women's golf coaches with Dale McNamara of Tulsa (1974-2000).

Senior Nadine White shot a school and Big South Championship record 7-under 65 Wednesday to finish second, while Desiree Andersson (3rd), Annelie Sjoholm (5th) and Ayelen Irizar (10th) also recorded top-10 performances for the top-seeded Camels.  Anna Svanka finished in a tie for 14th for the Camels, who have finished among the top two teams in their conference tournament 24 times in the last 26 years.

Last year's Big South individual medalist, White made seven birdies Wednesday in a bogey-free round to break the school record of 66 set by Michelle Koh in 2010 and matched by Michelle Koh three years later.  White made the turn at 3-under, birdied the par-four 10th hole, then finished with birdie at the par-four 16th, par-three 17th and par-five 18th holes.

She finished the event at 6-under-par 210 (74-71-65), three shots behind individual champ Celia Mansour of Presbyterian (71-66-70—207), who set the league tournament 54-hole mark.  White made 39 pars, tops in the 45-golfer field, and had 11 birdies (tied for sixth) while finishing 2-under on the par-4 (second), par-3 (tied fourth) and par-5 holes.

"The swing just felt good today," said White, who was named to the all-conference team for the third-straight year. "I knew it was my last conference round and just wanted to finish it well. I played smarter than I did the last couple of days; the ball went closer and just sank the putts. I was making sure that I wasn't thinking ahead. Finishing off birdie, birdie, birdie I couldn't believe it."

Andersson, who earned Big South freshman of the year honors, finished in a tie for third (69-68-74—211) with High Point's Samantha Vodry (73-69-69—211). Sjoholm, voted Big South player of the year by league head coaches, was fifth at 1-under 215 (73-69-73) to also earn all-championship team recognition as a top-5 finisher.

After matching the school 36-hole record (137) through two rounds, Andersson produced her first career top-five finish Wednesday.  She tied for the tournament lead with 13 birdies, and tied for second in par-3 scoring (-3).  Sjoholm, last year's Big South Championship runner-up, earned her fifth top-10 showing of the year after leading the event in par-5 scoring (-6) and tying with White for sixth with 11 birdies.

Irizar (73-75-71—219) recorded her best-ever Big South Championship finish and tied for fourth on the par-3 holes (-2). Her final round included two birdies and only one bogey.  After an opening-round 79, Svanka played her final 36 holes 1-under and finished at 6-over 222 (79-72-71). She tied with Andersson for the tournament lead with 13 birdies.

"Not only was it a record-setting performance, it was pretty incredible," said Crooks.  "Annelie birdies four holes in the middle to save her round, Nadine birdies the final three holes to have the lowest round in conference history, Desiree gets the freshman of the year award, and the two I didn't mention – Ayelen and Anna – both shot under par today. It's exciting to be a part of something this successful."

All five of Campbell's golfers in the event were named to the Big South all-conference team, while Andersson was joined on the all-freshman team by Stacey White. Sjoholm was tabbed for the Big South all-academic team, and Crooks earned his 13th conference women's coach of the year award in 26 seasons, including 17 years as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.

In his 26-year career, Crooks has guided his Campbell women to 14 conference championships, including the Big South crowns in 1993, 1994, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017.  This year's NCAA regional appearance will be Campbell's 20th under Crooks' direction.

2017 Big South Conference Women's Golf Championship
Ninety Six, S.C. / The Patriot GC at Grand Harbor
Apr. 17-19, 2017 / Par 72, 6045 Yards

Final Team Results: 1. Campbell 289-280-280—849, 2. Gardner-Webb 298-285-291—874, 3. High Point 304-286-293—883, 4. Presbyterian 303-287-295—885, 5. Winthrop 302-303-289—894, 6. Charleston Southern 296-297-305—898, 7. UNC Asheville 313-304-309—926, 8. Longwood 320-311-306—937, 9. Radford 321-312-306—939. 

Final Individual Leaders (All-Championship Team): 1. Celia Mansour (Presbyterian) 71-66-70—207, 2. Nadine White (Campbell) 74-71-65—210, T3. Desiree Andersson (Campbell) 69-68-74—211, T3. Samantha Vodry (High Point) 73-69-69—211, 5. Annelie Sjoholm (Campbell) 73-69-73—215.

Other Campbell Individuals: 10. Ayelen Irizar 73-75-71—219, T14. Anna Svanka 79-72-71—222.

2017 Big South Conference Women's Golf Award Winners

All-Conference Team                                                   
Annelie Sjoholm, Jr., Campbell
Nadine White, Sr., Campbell
Shelby Thompson, Sr., Charleston Southern
Hayley McNeill, Jr., Charleston Southern
Taylor Dodson, Sr., Gardner-Webb
Ayelen Irizar, Jr., Campbell
Ashley Sloup, Jr., Winthrop
Celia Mansour, Jr., Presbyterian College
Desiree Andersson, Fr., Campbell
Danielle Fuss, Sr., High Point
Anna Svanka, Soph., Campbell

All-Freshman Team
Desiree Andersson, Campbell
Stacey White, Campbell
Tonrak Tasaso, High Point
Samantha Vodry, High Point
Rebecca Black, UNC Asheville

All-Academic Team
Annelie Sjoholm, Jr., Campbell
Hayley McNeill, Jr., Charleston Southern
Taylor Dodson, Sr., Gardner-Webb
Danielle Fuss, Sr., High Point
Kyra Horlock, Jr., Longwood
Abby Driscoll, Sr., Presbyterian College
Kasidy Beckel, Soph., Radford
Ashley Sloup, Jr., Winthrop

All-Championship Team
Celia Mansour, Jr., Presbyterian (medalist)
Nadine White, Sr., Campbell
Desiree Andersson, Fr., Campbell
Samantha Vodry, Fr., High Point
Annelie Sjoholm, Jr., Campbell

Golfer of the Year
Annelie Sjoholm, Jr., Campbell

Freshman of the Year
Desiree Andersson, Fr., Campbell

Coach of the Year
John Crooks, Campbell

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Taylor Dodson, Sr., Gardner-Webb