Williams' Georgiana Salant is NCAA Division III women's golf champion
All-American golfer Georgiana Salant and Williams College women's coach Erika DeSanty had both imagined the moment and Friday they experienced it when the senior captured the individual title in NCAA Division III Championship at the Mission Inn and Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
"I'm not going to lie, I've thought about it once or twice, and to have it come true is pretty amazing," said Salant, who fired a steady 4-over 76 in the final round to win by two shots and give the Ephs their first women's national champion in golf.
"I just told Georgi that I have been picturing this for four years," DeSanty said. "I've imagined walking down the final fairway with her having a chance to win the national championship. I don't even have the words to describe how proud this makes me. She's done so much for this program. It's awesome."
Both were also proud of Salant's teammates. After standing in ninth place after a tough opening round, the Ephs rallied to produce the best second-best score over the final three days to finish in third place. Rhodes College easily took the team title, outdistancing defending champion Mary-Hardin Baylor by 24 shots with a 72-hole total of 1,256 total. Williams finished 29 shots back.
"The team had to play 27 holes on a course that is a grind," said DeSanty. "It was an incredible comeback. They showed a lot of mental endurance. The fact they put up a great score [Friday] makes me incredibly proud."
Freshman Tracey Kim, who struggled over the first two days, actually produced the best score in the final round, firing a 2-over 74.
"I'm so proud of my teammates," said Salant of Kim, Sarah Hasselman, Shelby Shote and Emily Wickstrom.
Heading into the final round with a two-shot lead, Salant took her normal team-oriented approach and it obviously worked.
"Actually, I was pretty calm," she said. "I tried to stay process-oriented and the fact I was also playing for the team and not just for myself helped me stay focused and not think about the end result."
Salant had one bad stretch over the 72 holes -- a 5-over run over six holes in round one -- on a course that has trouble everywhere.
"I did what my teammate Shelby [Shote] does," Salant said with a laugh. "I put my putter on the ground, jumped over it and said ‘I just jumped off the bogey train.' "
She finished that round with three pars and played superbly the rest of the week in finishing at 15-over 303.
"It was four days of masterful course management," DeSanty said. "She played smart and did exactly what she needed to do to score. Overall, she showed a lot of maturity and I have never seen her strike the ball so well and confidently."
Salant confirmed that she was feeling good about her game.
"I've never been more sure of my swing," Salant said. "I just knew when I went out there I would make good swings, put it in the fairway, on the green and two putt."
For certain, Salant, a chemistry major, found the perfect formula at the right time and will leave Williamstown for graduate school at the University of Colorado with a perfect final memory of playing for the Ephs.