Caterina Don

The Georgia women’s golf team fell to eighth place on the third and final day of the inaugural White Sands Invitational after improving from fifth to third place over the course of the first two days.

Georgia finished its fall schedule at the Ocean Club Golf Course in Nassau, Bahamas. The tournament ran from Monday through Wednesday.

Leading up to the tournament, head coach Josh Brewer said he was feeling optimistic.

“To us, it has the feel of an NCAA Regional,” Brewer said. “It might be missing one or two of the top teams, but you’re not going to have all the top teams at the same regional. There are a lot of teams who could be fighting for that last spot [in the NCAA Championships field] at regionals so it’s great competition and preparation for us. We’d like to move ahead some of the teams ahead of us in the rankings, which would help us start the spring on a high note.”

14 teams competed at the invitational, including Texas, which finished first and had four individuals all in the top seven scores. There were five top-25 teams at the tournament, and three other schools ranked higher than Georgia, which was ranked No. 34 by Golfstat.

Freshman Caterina Don fired a 1-under 71 — her third par-or-better round of the tournament — to help her finish fourth individually on Wednesday. Georgia posted a 5-over 293 in the final round as a team and placed eighth overall at 9-over 873.

Lagging behind Don’s impressive finish, Jo Hua Hung tied for 21st at 2-over 218, Jenny Bae tied for 34th at 221, Caroline Craig tied for 41st at 222, Céleste Dao tied for 51st at 224 and Alison Crenshaw placed 79th at 236.

This was Crenshaw’s debut for Georgia. Crenshaw, who is from Suwanee, Georgia, was a two-time junior college All-American at Daytona State before transferring to Georgia this fall.

Georgia began the last day quickly, with Bulldogs posting five birdies over their first two holes. Georgia gave those strokes back over its next four holes.

“We have to learn that under par is what you need to shoot to be an elite team,” Brewer said. “We’re really talented and our scores have been solid, but in events like this, you have to make more birdies. That’s something we can work on in the offseason. We were in a good position to have a high finish here. Next time we get there, we’ll close it out better.”

Georgia will enjoy a brief offseason before returning to action at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 9. The Bulldogs’ spring slate is headlined by two home events at the UGA Golf Course – the 47th annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic March 20-22 and an NCAA Regional May 11-13.

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