Ole Miss women’s golf junior Chiara Tamburlini leapt up the Tallahassee Regional leaderboard on Wednesday, firing a red-hot 66 (-6) on the day to secure her spot at the 2022 NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Starting her day tied for 30th overall, soared up the leaderboard in Tallahassee to tie for sixth and clinch one of just two individual spots available to the best performers from non-advancing teams. Ending her day without a single bogey and three birdies apiece on both her front and back nine, Tamburlini now returns back to Scottsdale just one year following the program’s 2021 NCAA National Championship victory.
Heading to No. 7, Tamburlini found herself needing at least one birdie in order to force a playoff with just three holes remaining in her round. Tamburlini was able to do just that, sinking a birdie putt which drew her even with Kennesaw State’s Alizee Vidal. Following a 21-foot putt to save par on No. 8, Tamburlini had just one hole to prevent a two-person playoff for the final spot headed to Arizona.
Sitting 155 yards out and with an eight iron in hand, Tamburlini put together a near-perfect approach shot, landing just two feet from the pin of No. 18. Sinking her sixth and final birdie of the day, Tamburlini punched her ticket the NCAA Championships, with her clutch performance down the stretch giving her the edge.
“Just walking up to the green, seeing the team behind it cheering and seeing how excited Coach Zack [Byrd] got as well I was like, this might actually be a close one,” Tamburlini said. “It was just amazing having the entire team there, especially with it being Julia [Johnson]’s last time. I’m just very thankful for what she’s done for Ole Miss and for me. I would have never done this without her help. I’m just very happy and grateful right now.”
Her third-round score of 66 (-6) not only marks a new career-best for Tamburlini, but also stands as the second-lowest round of any golfer in attendance at the Tallahassee Regional this week.
The Rebels, who started their day off in ninth place, also gained some ground to settle into sixth place in the team’s final tournament of the 2021-22 season (301-310-288–899). Falling just short of returning to the NCAA Championships as a team, the Rebels saw their tournament with their best team round of the week, logging a 288 (E) to cap off their postseason run.
“We played really well today. We gave it a run to try to make the top four and that’s all that we could really do, but unfortunately we dug ourselves into such a big hole after yesterday’s round that we just couldn’t get it done,” said head coach Kory Henkes. “You could just tell that today was going to be Chiara’s day. She’s a fighter and she had a bogey-free round which is hard to do on this golf course. Super proud of her and looking forward to going back to Scottsdale with her next week. I know she’ll give it a good run out there.”
Andrea Lignell’s season ended with the Gothenburg, Sweden, native finishing just outside of the top 20 in Tallahassee, as a third-round score of 74 (+2) saw her finish eight-under on the week and in a tie for 21st overall. Lignell wrapped up the tournament ranking third in the field in par-3 scoring, shooting one-under on the week.
Freshmen McKinley Cunningham and Natacha Host Husted each capped off their rookie campaigns by logging their best rounds of the week on day three, with Cunningham carding a round of 75 (+3) and Host Husted finishing with a score of 73 (+1) on the day. Cunningham wound up in a tie for 38th having gone 14-over on the week, with Host Husted trailing just behind her with a three-day score of 232 (+16) earning her 46th.
In her final tournament with the Rebels, Julia Johnson rounded out the Ole Miss lineup and her collegiate career with a 52nd place finish at Seminole Legacy Golf Club (76-81-77–234).
Florida State, UCLA, South Carolina and Mississippi State clinched the four NCAA Championship bids to advance out of the Tallahassee Regional.
Tamburlini will now travel to Scottsdale, Arizona for the NCAA Championships, which are set to run May 20-25 at Grayhawk Golf Club.