Kate Smith captures first collegiate title, leads Nebraska to team victory in New Orleans

"This win for Kate was a long time coming," Nebraska Coach Lisa Johnson said. "She made some clutch birdies early in her round on some tough holes. Kate maintained great composure coming down the stretch. We are all so proud of her."

Kate Smith, third from left, picked up her first collegiate individual golf victory in New Orleans and led the Cornhuskers to the team title Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Photo courtesy Tulane Athletics

Kate Smith fired a final-round 70 to capture her first career collegiate title and lead the Nebraska women's golf team to the championship at the 13-team Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate on Tuesday in New Orleans.

Smith, a fifth-year senior from Detroit Lakes, Minn., carded her best round of the tournament with her two-under-par 70 on the 6,280-yard layout of the English Turn Golf and Country Club. She finished with a season-best three-round total of 215 (-1) to take medalist honors. She also withstood challenging playing conditions and a furious charge from Tulane's Carlota Palacios, who scorched the course with 64 (-8) to finish one shot back at 216. Smith and Palacios were the only two golfers to produce rounds better than par on Tuesday.

"This win for Kate was a long time coming," Nebraska Coach Lisa Johnson said. "She made some clutch birdies early in her round on some tough holes. Kate maintained great composure coming down the stretch. We are all so proud of her."


Smith's final round included five birdies and three bogeys along with 10 pars to lead a Nebraska team effort that included five individual top-25 performances from Husker golfers.

"This was a total team effort," Johnson said. "Not only did we win, but we finished strong in tough conditions today. The course played longer today due to rain last night and windier conditions. We put on a solid display of ball-striking."

Smith's efforts earned her Big 10 golfer of the week honors for a second time in two months. Her first coming in early February after tying for third place with a score of 219 (+3; 75-76-68) at the SMU Trinity Forest Invitational in Dallas.

The team victory was a first for the Cornhuskers since 2019.

Nebraska redshirt junior Kirsten Baete (Beatrice, Neb.) capped an outstanding tournament by finishing fourth with a three-round total of 221 (+5) that included an even-par 72 on Tuesday. Baete's final round included four birdies, two bogeys and one double-bogey along with 11 pars.

True freshman Michaela Vavrova (Bojnice, Slovakia) showed her consistency throughout the tournament, tying for 20th individually with three consecutive rounds of 76 to finish at 228 (+12).


Fellow true freshman Lindsey Thiele (Wahoo, Neb.) helped Nebraska produce its best team score of the season (288) in the final round. Thiele's even-par 72 allowed her to charge 21 spots up the individual leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with teammate Alice Duan at 229 (+13). Duan, a graduate transfer from Reno, Nev., posted NU's fourth count-four score of the day with a 74 (+2) to climb five spots up the leaderboard and give Nebraska five top-25 individual finishes in the tournament.

"This was a big win for our team," Johnson said. "It reaffirms that these individuals know how to play at a high level under pressure."

With Nebraska firing on nearly all cylinders, the Huskers overcame a two-stroke deficit heading into the final round to claim a seven-stroke win over runner-up Texas State. The Big Red posted a season-best team tournament total of 884 (+20), while Texas State finished at 891 (+28). The hosts from Tulane took third at 900 (+36), while Chattanooga finished fourth at 906 (+42).

Nebraska finished 30 strokes ahead of Big Ten counterpart Rutgers (+50), which took fifth, and 32 strokes ahead of sixth-place Wisconsin (916, +52).

Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate

New Orleans, La., English Turn Golf & Country Club

Par 72, 6,280 Yards March 14-16, 2021

Final Team Results


1. Nebraska - 294-302-288=884 (+20)

2. Texas State - 296-298-297=891 (+27)

3. Tulane - 308-307-285=900 (+36)

4. Chattanooga - 303-304-299=906 (+42)

5. Rutgers - 301-310-303=914 (+50)

6. Wisconsin - 314-304-298=916 (+52)

7. Louisiana Monroe - 308-307-304=919 (+55)

8. Central Arkansas - 310-308-302=920 (+56)


9. SMU - 314-304-304=922 (+58)

10. McNeese State - 314-315-299=928 (+64)

11. Southern Mississippi - 312-313-305=930 (+66)

12. Seton Hall - 310-316-310=936 (+72)

13. Loyola (New Orleans) - 323-313-332=968 (+104)

Final Individual Leaderboard

1. Kate Smith, Nebraska - 71-74-70=215 (-1)

2. Carlota Palacios, Tulane - 78-74-64=216 (E)


3. Beatriz Barrios, Chattanooga - 72-75-73=220 (+4)

4. Kirsten Baete, Nebraska - 73-76-72=221 (+5)

T5. Elin Kumlin, Central Arkansas - 76-74-72=222 (+6)

T5. Marine Griffaut, Texas State - 73-72-77=222 (+6)

7. Federica Tavelli-Westerlund, Texas State - 72-77-74=223 (+7)

8. Bobbi Stricker, Wisconsin - 75-75-74=224 (+8)

9. Carolina Rotzinger, McNeese State - 76-74-75=225 (+9)

T10. *Daozeng Liu, Tulane - 76-77-73=226 (+10)


T10. Sasikarn Somboonsup, Texas State - 82-72-72=226 (+10)

T10. Jennifer Rosenberg, Tulane - 76-78-72=226 (+10)

T10. Maeve Rossi, Rutgers - 73-74-79=226 (+10)

T10. Geraldine Wong, Texas State - 74-78-74=226 (+10)

T10. *Noramol Nuchsila, Texas State - 76-72-78=226 (+10)

T10. Merche Corbacho, Southern Mississippi - 76-75-75=226 (+10)

(NU Communications contributed to this report)

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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