The USC Beaufort women's golf team saw its season come to a heartbreaking end Thursday, as the Sand Sharks missed the cut for the final round and finished 21st at the NAIA Women's Golf National Championships at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club in Lincoln, Neb.
Not long after posting their best round of the week -- one that would have been good enough to move them inside the cut line to qualify for Friday's final round -- the ninth-ranked Sand Sharks learned senior Kendra Collins would be disqualified from all three rounds for using irons with illegal grooves.
With Collins' scores ineligible to be used for USCB's team score, the Sand Sharks went up by 30 strokes and they slipped from a tie for 16th to 21st.
The disqualification was not an isolated incident, as USCB coach Alexis Bennett said at least five teams and several individual players were affected by a rule addendum implemented by the USGA in March. Many associations, including the NCAA, allowed players to continue using the now-illegal clubs through the summer, but the NAIA did not.
The infraction spoiled what had been an outstanding day for the Sand Sharks, who thought they had posted a team score of 316 to jump four spots on the leaderboard and prolong their season. Collins led the way with a 3-over-par 75 and would have been tied with teammates Samantha O'Donnell (83-84-79--246) and Lina Sekerkova (83-80-83--246) for 62nd place.
Tori DeGroodt (86-82-79--247) tied for 66th and Hayley Miller (92-101-83--276) carded her best round of the season to tie for 127th.
"It's disappointing. We were in great position to beat last year's 15th-place finish," Bennett said. "It's a tough ending."