Guadalajara, Mexico – The Virginia women’s golf team engineered a dramatic comeback over the final nine holes of play Tuesday to win the IJGA Collegiate Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Cavaliers finished the 54-hole event at 8-under par 856, two shots ahead of LSU. UVA shot 8-under 280 during the event’s final round.
When play resumed Tuesday morning, with just nine holes remaining, the Cavaliers trailed the No. 18 Tigers by nine strokes. UVA’s four scoring players managed to complete the back nine at the Guadalajara Country club at a combined 5-under par. At the same time, LSU struggled down the stretch and played the same holes at 6-over par.
Sophomore Riley Smyth (Cary, N.C.) had the hot hand for Virginia during the final round, shooting 4-under 68, including birdies on her final two holes to give the Cavaliers the lead. Her final round propelled her to a 10th-place finish, the third of her career, with a score of 2-under 214.
Junior Beth Lillie (Fullerton, Calif.) posted the Hoos’ best overall finish, placing sixth at 5-under 211. With UVA holding a one stroke lead, Lillie carded a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to finish her round at 2-under 70. Her 54-hole total of 5-under 211 was a career-best mark. Her finish was the ninth top-10 outing of her career.
Virginia entered the tournament ranked No. 41 in the first Golfstat standings of the spring. The event’s 14-team field included six teams ranked in that poll’s top-25. The Cavaliers were the host school for the tournament.
“I’m so proud of the team for our fight and belief that we can win any tournament we play in,” Lillie said. “Our grit and confidence really showed competing in this stacked field. The energy from everyone was some of the best I’ve ever been a part of in my three years so far and I can’t wait to compete the rest of the spring.”
Lillie had 41 pars during the event, the most of any of the 73 competitors.
Smyth led the field during the week by playing the course’s four par-5 holes at 9-under par, including three birdies on those holes during the final round.
“Going into the last nine holes, even knowing we were nine shots back, we never gave up and I could feel the energy throughout the team this morning,” Smyth said. “I’m really proud of how we came together as a team this week and how hard we worked until the last putt.”
The victory was the first for Virginia since its 2018 season-opening win at Michigan State’s Mary Fossum Invitational in Ria Scott’s debut as UVA’s head coach.
“From the minute they arrived in Guadalajara, our team’s mindset and attitudes were in the right place,” Scott said. “We are so proud that the hard work they’ve been putting in has come together in for them in competition. Marissa (Dodd, assistant coach) and I have always believed that this team is good – hopefully this win helps them realize it to be true.”
Sophomore Haeley Wotnosky (Wake Forest, N.C.) and freshman Virginia Bossi (Como, Italy) each shot 1-under 71 during the final round to help push UVA to the win. Wotnowsky posted the best finish and 54-hole score of her career, placing 12th overall at 1-under 216. Bossi was one shot behind her on the leaderboard at even par 216. That was good for a 15th-place finish.
Senior Julia Ford (Shrewsbury, Mass.) rounded out UVA’s team scoring with a 70th-place finish at 234. Freshman Celeste Valinho (Jacksonville, Fla.), who competed as an individual, was 68th at 233.
Florida State junior Amanda Doherty took medalist honors at 10-under 206. She shot 68 during the final round.
“It was a real challenge this week balancing hosting and coaching duties, but the MexGolf staff did a great job of executing the event so that we could really focus on our team when it was time to play,” Scott said. “We are so grateful for the partnership with MexGolf, GCC, and the Mexican Golf Federation. We were successful at bringing high level college golf to Mexico and hope we have the opportunity to do this again in the future.”
The Cavaliers are off until March 6 when they open play at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
IJGA Collegiate Invitational
Guadalajara Country Club
Par 72, 6,437 yards
1. Virginia 287-289-280-856
2. LSU 288-284-286-858
3. South Carolina 290-281-292-863
4. Arizona State 292-288-289-869
5. Stanford 286-288-297-871
5. Florida State 293-287-291-871
7. Baylor 285-293-295-873
8. Maryland 301-281-294-876
9. Texas A&M 293-290-297-880
10. Arkansas 293-292-296-881
11. California 296-294-296-886
11. Michigan 302-293-291-886
13. Clemson 293-298-303-894
14. Tennessee 297-296-306-899
1. Amanda Doherty, Florida State 70-68-68-206
2. Ingrid Lindblad, LSU 66-70-71-207
3. Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, South Carolina 73-69-67-209
4. Beatrice Wallin, Florida State 68-72-70-210
4. Elodie Chapelet, Baylor 68-70-72-210
6. Beth Lillie 70-71-70-211
10. Riley Smyth 75-71-68-214
12. Haeley Wotnosky 71-73-71-215
15. Virginia Bossi 71-74-71-216
70. Julia Ford 79-76-79-234
68. Celeste Valinho* 75-74-84-233
* Competing as an individual.