SEVIERVILLE — Senior Matt Emery continued to play the best golf of his college career and put together rounds of 70-71 for a 3-under par 141 and outbattled North Georgia’s Michael Motz (69-73 - 142) and two other golfers to capture medalist honors in the Smokey Mountain Invitational.
Tuesday’s round of 71 also helped lift the Lee men’s team to a third-place finish in an 18-team tournament loaded with NCAA Division II programs. Clayton State (286-292 - 578) claimed the team title. Queens University of Charleston S.C. was second (294-291 - 585), but the Flames turned in Tuesday’s best round (288) on Tuesday and a 591 36-hole total was good enough for the tie with North Georgia.
While Emery was walking away with the hardware, Lee’s Hunter Vest carded a 3-under 69 and recorded the low score in Tuesday’s overall play. Vest, who struggled with a 78 on Monday, turned things around with the blistering 69 and totaled 147, good enough for a tied for 12th.
“I am really happy for Matt, in winning his second collegiate tournament,” said coach John Maupin. “I know today was an up-and-down round, but he hung in there, capped it off with a birdie and won by one stroke. I think him being able to come out and win the first tournament of the year will really free him up for the remainder of the season.”
Maupin also praised the effort of Vest. “Hunter came through big time today. His 69 is a great score on that golf course. I was also really proud of Taylor Davis, as I think he was 5-over par early and battled back to a 74.”
Davis and Shea Sylvester each came back with a 74 on Tuesday after their 78 on Monday. The 152 was good enough for a tie for 44 in the field of 96 golfers. Peyton Sliger posted back-to-back 77s and placed 53rd with a 154.
“It was just a really strong round we saw from the guys today,” said Maupin. “You can always tell a lot about a team based on how they respond to a bad round, and in that regard this team showed me a lot today. We were able to make a big jump in the standings and have the lowest round of the day. This will be some great momentum to carry over to our next one.”
Little plays big for Lady Flames
SEVIERVILLE — Bernadette Little is listed at only 5-foot-4 on the Lee women’s golf roster, but she played much larger than that in the second round of the Smokey Mountain Invitational on Tuesday.
Little claimed her first medalist award after firing a 3-under 69 on Tuesday, that combined with an opening round 73 gave her a 142 total and a two-stroke victory over West Florida’s Camila Sevillano. Marie Coors (St. Leo, Fla.) was third (145), while Meridith Hawkins of Carson-Newman was fourth (146), and Ashlee Beck of Montevallo was fifth at 147.
“Bernadette played terrific today, and I couldn’t be happier for her personally,” said a pleased coach John Maupin. “She works so hard and has a great demeanor on the course. She put a lot of time in this summer, and it paid off big today. She earned this win. Against such a strong field she was going to have to play well, and she went out and made it happen. She joins a great group of previous Lady Flames medalists and I am excited for her.”
As a team the Lady Flames jumped all the way up to a second-place finish. The 301-294 - 595 was four shots behind the winning St. Leo squad (299-292 - 591). West Florida was third (596), while Limestone (S.C.) with a 603 and Montevallo (617) completed the top five finishers in the field of 17 teams and 90 individual golfers.
“The ladies played a fantastic team round of golf today,” pointed out Maupin. “I believe this is our lowest team score ever in relation to par. I felt good about where we stood all day, and it was a lot of fun being locked in such a close battle with two great teams. We let a few slip coming in, but overall it was a great effort from the whole team. This was a great way to move into NCAA Division II competition. I am proud of the showing we had.”
As expected, Courtney Shelton rallied back on Tuesday and her 73 combined with the 77 on Monday gave the senior a 150 finish, good enough for a tie for 10th. Newcomer Callie Kitchens tied for 17th with rounds of 78-75 - 153. After a solid 73 on Monday, Madison Alexander slipped to an 81 on Tuesday and settled for a tied for 19th with a 154. Another newcomer, Sarah Robertson turned in a score that counted on Tuesday (77) and her two-day total was 155.