Josie Howell, Sports Editor
In last week’s Palmetto Classic in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, the Gamecocks ended this tournament on a high note, finishing thirteenth out of 22 teams. Claire Vermette, who led her team throughout the event, finished fourteenth individually.
On the first day of the event, Vermette hit the ground running with a pair of pars and an eagle on the par-four third hole. She sunk her second shot from 112-yards out with a pitching wedge, recording two-under through three holes. After recording two bogeys, she jumped back and carded four birdies in a five-hole stretch from the ninth-thirteenth holes.
Vermette finished her first day with four birdies and an eagle in her first round on the par-72, 6,005-yard Turtle Point Golf Course, with a final-round 71 to finish in the Top 15 in the 114-player field. This came two days after she recorded her career-best 68 to lead after the first round.
“During the first round, when I had a stretch of four birdies in five holes, I knew I could go low,” said Vermette. “I had never shot under par in a college tournament before, so I was really excited and nervous at the same time, but managed to finish strong which was the best feeling I’ve experienced in my college golf career.”
Junior Ana Perez Altuna was also in the top 20 after day one. She birdied three of her first six holes to start the day strong and made another birdie on No. 10 to bring in a total of three-consecutive bogeys.
Junior Valentina Curet tied for 43rd after the opening round. Seniors Javiera Espinosa Vallarino and Layne Dyar also both brought a strong presence to the game. Both tied for 74th after each shot an opening round 78.
In Tuesday’s round, Vermette carded 15 pars and two birdies. She then climbed six spots on the leaderboard after a second-round 78 on Monday that dropped her to 20th place individually. These were her first two rounds under par this season.
Vallerino and Altuna each tied for 59th after shooting 54-hole scores of 228. Espinosa capped her tournament with a Tuesday with 77, while Altuna closed with 79.
Curet shot 78 on Tuesday to put the final touches on her three-day 231 and tied for 71st, while Dyar tied for 78th with a 233 that was finished off by a final-round 79. Troy’s Nicole Lorup won the event with an impressive 9-under 207.
“In the second round, I put too much pressure on myself to perform very well,” said Vermette. “I was expecting a lot out of myself and was hard on myself when I hit shots that weren’t ‘perfect’. Going out into the third round, I just wanted to play for my team and not worry so much about my individual score/finish. I trusted my abilities and made some lengthy putts to maintain my momentum. The main thing I learned from this tournament was that I’m capable of shooting low scores. I just have to believe in myself. Golf is a mental sport. When you train your mind, the scores will show.”
“I’ve been struggling all season long to think more positively on the course and forget about bad shots that I hit,” said Vermette. “This tournament it clicked for me and I found a great mental space of ‘grinding it out’ before the round even starts. I assume it’s going to be a tough day, so with each shot I tried my very best to make it the most meaningful shot I hit during the round.”
The Gamecocks closed the event with a total of 902. JSU carded a 305 in Tuesday’s final round. Host College of Charleston won the event with an even-par 864.
The Gamecocks have one event remaining on their fall schedule, the UALR Women’s Golf Classic in Hot Springs Village, Ark. on October 27 and October 28.