When Mimi Burke took over as head women’s golf coach last May she had a feeling the Eagles may eventually be able to win a conference title, but never truly envisioned a turnaround which would lead to Georgia Southern’s first Sun Belt Championship and NCAA appearance in her first season. Tuesday the Eagles capped off a remarkable wire-to-wire win as Georgia Southern claimed the Sun Belt Women's Golf Championship Tuesday at the LPGA International Hills Course in Daytona.
“I am a very competitive person and I want to win,” said Burke. “I told some close friends when I took the job ‘Yeah, we are going to win the Sun Belt in my first year’ but I don’t know if I really believed that. I felt winning a championship in the first year was a pretty lofty goal, but you never come in and think you won’t be successful.”
The Eagles rolled into the 2022 Sun Belt Championship with a little momentum after winning the Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate a couple of weeks ago. This week the Eagles came out hot with an opening round of 294 to lead the field. Georgia Southern then backed that up with a 299 Monday and went into the final round with a two-stroke lead over Coastal Carolina.
Tuesday the Eagles just kept rolling firing a 302 and went wire-to-wire with a four-stroke victory over the Chanticleers.
“When we opened the spring, I got a reality check as we struggled and I wondered how we’d turn things around,” said Burke. “When we won at Appalachian State’s tournament and I saw how the other teams in our conference were doing I thought we had a chance. When we came out and shot a 294, I saw things falling into place. We haven’t started off tournaments well so after that first round, I really was confident we could pull it out.”
Freshman Saruncha Rattanasin earned medalist honors and senior Mia Kness tied for second. Rattanasin became the second Eagle player to win low-medalist honors in the Sun Belt Championship joining Ella Ofstedahl.
“We have been getting some really good scores from our players, but not always in the same round,” said Burke. “I think we just trended in the right direction. I knew when we made out the schedule the App State tournament was winnable and Mimosa Hills would be a good course for us. We all just started getting the confidence we needed and everything just came together.”
Statesboro’s Abby Newton fired the Eagles low round Tuesday with a 72 and tied for 11th overall. Madison Heideman shot a three-day total of +13 which was good for T-23.
The Eagles returned to a warm reception at the Bennett/Ramsey Golf Center Tuesday night as around 100 supporters came out to welcome the coaches and team home.
“It was unreal,” said Burke. “I have learned over the past several months the Statesboro community is so loving. They will do anything for you and it is such a great place to be a part of. I don’t know many other schools that would happen for, let alone the women’s golf team. It is just really special and I am so thankful for everyone coming out and I just still can’t believe they did that.”
The Eagles will gather once again at the Bennett/Ramsey center as they await their fate. The Eagles know they are in the NCAA field, but will find out Wednesday as the selection show airs at 5 p.m. on The Golf Channel.