East Noble grad Katie Sharp wins Clemson Invitational

Courtesy: Michigan State University

SUNSET, S.C. — Michigan State women’s golfer Katie Sharp shot an 8-under-par 208 (68-70-70), tied for the second-lowest 54-hole total in school history, to claim medalist honors at the inaugural Clemson Invitational on Sunday. It marked Sharp’s first career collegiate win and the third of the season for the Spartans (Sarah Burnham, Landfall Tradition and Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate).

As a team, the No. 46 Spartans finished in third place at even-par 864 (287-292-285), their lowest tournament total of the season. Sunday’s third round of 3-under 285 was the team’s lowest of the spring season and tied for the eighth lowest in program history. The 54-hole total of 864 also tied for the third-best tournament score ever at MSU.

No. 8 Florida won the 14-tournament with a 3-under 861, just one stroke ahead of No. 33 Furman and four ahead of MSU, but the Spartans placed ahead of six teams in the Golfstat Top 50 rankings. The first-ever Clemson Invitational was held at the par 72, 6,252-yard course at The Reserve at Lake Keowee.

Sharp’s 208 was only one shot behind Allyssa Ferrell’s school-record 207 (-9) she carded at the 2014 Central District Invitational in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Caroline Powers also had a 208 in the 2011 Tar Heel Invitational.

“It’s just so rewarding to see a young person grow leaps and bounds since she got here,” said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll of the improvement she’s seen in Sharp. “I think that’s one of the most rewarding parts of the job is when someone comes in, she redshirted, and then just slowly crept up and made her way. She’s worked herself into now a very fine player who’s capable of winning collegiate tournaments.”

Sharp, who began on hole No. 4, was consistent all day, racking up three birdies and 14 pars against just one bogey. She collected 11 birdies for the tournament and had only three bogeys all weekend. Sharp entered the day in a three-way tie for first place, but pulled away for a two-stroke victory.

“It was great to see her play — she was so steady,” commented Slobodnik-Stoll. “She controlled her emotions so well. When you’re in a situation like she was in today, it’s a new experience, and you never know how a player is going to handle it. Obviously, she did phenomenal and shot the second-lowest total in school history, which is a wonderful accomplishment.”

It wasn’t just Sharp who had success over the weekend.

Senior Alison Knowles had her best tournament as a Spartan, finishing in 10th place with an even-par 216. She shot a 72 in all three rounds.

Sophomore Sarah Burnham posted her sixth top-25 finish of the season, tying for 15th place at 3-over 219 (75-74-70). She recorded her team-best 11th under-par round on Sunday while producing four birdies on her scorecard.

Freshman Carolyn Markley delivered the second-best finish of her young career by tying for 31st place with a 223 (72-76-75). The 7-over 223 tied a season low for Markley (Landfall Tradition).

Senior Gabby Yurik had her best round of the tournament with a 73 on Sunday and tied for 39th overall at 225 (76-76-73).

“I think the team regained some confidence this weekend,” said Slobodnik-Stoll. “We stumbled a little bit at Briar’s Creek (last tournament), and got a little close to the regional line (for the NCAA Tournament), where we don’t want to be. This team is ensuring that we don’t want to be in that position again this year. That’s what was great about this weekend is that they came back and played well. We had a chance to win and had a chance to beat the No. 8 team in the country. We were in position and we shot 3-under today, which is a very good score.”

Michigan State returns to action for the Lady Buckeye Invitational April 16-17 in Columbus, Ohio.

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