Special to Gatorsports.com
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For only the second time in program history, the Florida Gators have an NCAA medalist. Junior Sierra Brooks took home the second place trophy for the 2019 NCAA Championships in a field of 132 players.
With her overall tournament score of a four-under 215 at Blessings Golf Club, Brooks is just the second Gator and first since Gator Great Deb Richard to take home the accolades in 1985, on the heels of a team National Championship. Brooks had a less-than-ideal first round on Friday, turning in a two-over 75 and sitting in 13th. She rebounded nicely in a weather-suspended second round that spanned two days, carding a score of six-under 67 and seven birdies.
“I’m incredibly proud of Sierra,” UF coach Emily Bastel Glaser said. “She is the type of kid who is easy to root for because she works so hard and deserves all the accolades she gets. She leaves no stone unturned when it comes to being the best athlete she can be.
“She has accomplished so many great things this year but to watch her personal growth has been especially rewarding. This is an awesome way to end her season and prepare her for the U.S. Women’s Open next week.”
Brooks entered the final round Monday in sole possession of first place by one stroke, ahead of Arkansas’ Maria Fassi. Brooks had a morning tee time of 9:50 ET and Fassi, on her home course, didn’t tee off until 1:39. With Brooks finishing play and carding an even par for the round before Fassi even hit the turn, she became a sitting duck. Fassi finished her round with a tournament score of eight-under 211 and went five under in the final round. Fassi will begin her professional career on the LPGA next week at the US Women’s Open, where Brooks will be competing as an amateur.
Play ended up being suspended at 8:30 p.m. due to darkness and the remaining groups will finish in the morning. Based on unofficial scores, Florida finished in 10th place and missed the cut for match play by four strokes. The Gators will return the entire lineup, top to bottom, next season and hope to build off this momentum from a great run at the NCAA Championships.
“We had a great season and a great run here in Arkansas,” Glaser said. “Everyone is disappointed because we know we had enough talent here this week to go deeper in the tournament. We just didn’t have enough consistency in our roster top to bottom this week and the first round really hurt us. It’s hard to recover from a round like that at the National Championship, especially after losing a day to weather.
“By no means do I want to take away from the year this group had. They played some great golf and had a tremendous amount of growth both on and off the golf course. Everyone from this team will return next year and I know they will be able to use the experiences of this week as fuel for next season.”