LSU sophomore Sydney Cavin waited through an hour-long lightning delay on her final hole and executed a clutch shot on her first swing back, claiming an unlikely victory at the Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Golf Championship.
Cavin, a 5-foot-1 graduate of the Dunham School in Baton Rouge, never had finished higher than 47th or shot better than 11 over par in six career events before competing at English Turn.
That all changed in a remarkable three-day display at the 17-team tournament hosted by Tulane and featuring six of the top 13-ranked squads in the country. Cavin fired a 3-under 69 in the first round Sunday and matched that total Tuesday, finished at 5-under 211 along with Michigan State’s Sarah Burnham.
With no time for a playoff as more bad weather loomed, Cavin won the tiebreaker based on the best score on Tuesday’s back nine — 34 to Burnham’s 35.
“It just shows that hard work pays off,” Cavin said. I just kept fighting out there.”
She was fighting frustration after the expected rain and lightning that forced most New Orleans schools to dismiss class by noon finally arrived. NCAA rules require every team’s round to be completed for any of them to count, so the individual champion would have been second-round leader Lauren Kim of Stanford if the weather had not improved.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking knowing that I only had like three shots left and it might get canceled,” Cavin said. “But it worked out.”
When the players went back on the course, Burnham immediately birdied her final hole to catch Cavin. Cavin took a drop from a cart path and had to go over a tree 195 yards to the green in a 15 mph wind.
She put the ball on the middle of the green and two-putted for par and the win.
“It was a 3 hybrid, and she smoked it,” LSU coach Karen Bahnsen said. “It was perfect.”
Florida captured the team competition despite losing a seven-shot lead in the final round, giving coach Emily Glaser a nice present in her first tournament back from maternity leave. Tied with No. 13 Oklahoma State at 6-under during the weather delay, the 11th-ranked Gators finished at 2-under 862, one shot better than the Cowgirls.
Tulane, playing its second consecutive solid event in the spring after a rough fall, tied No.4 UCLA for sixth place with a 17-over par 881. The 57th-ranked Green Wave, which has qualified for the NCAA Championships three straight years, should move into the 40s when the next rankings are released later this week.
“Sometimes there’s a little bit of pressure on your home course, but they played really well,” coach Lorne Don said. “We beat some very good teams and are building some momentum as we continue through the spring.”
Senior Madison Opfer tied for 21st in individuals with a 3-over 219. Senior Emily Penttila was one stroke back in a tie for 25th.
LSU struggled aside from Cavin, finishing 12th at 31-over 895 a year after winning the tournament going away. Playing without 2015 co-champion Caroline Nistrup, who is likely lost for the season due following wrist surgery, the Tigers closed with a round of 306, the second-worst on the day.
Still, Cavin’s out-of-nowhere triumph provided a nice bandage.
She chose LSU because she loved Baton Rouge and wanted to stay close to her family, but no one predicted a tournament victory when she joined the team. She parred her final 10 holes Tuesday, playing as if she had been in this position before.
“I saw her as a kid we could develop and could become a good player,” Bahnsen said. “We saw some sparks of it, but for her to come through in a tournament of this magnitude, I don’t think she realized what this is.”
Clemson junior Jessica Hoang collapsed on the 17th green Tuesday and was taken to Ochsner West Bank hospital. Clemson coach John Thomas Horton said Hoang was in stable condition with vital signs back to normal after a scary incident in which she was struggling to breathe with bad chest pains.