WKU Women’s Golf: Joiner wins USA Intercollegiate Tournament, claims fifth career individual title

Another year, another title for Mary Joiner.

The WKU junior broke the Lady Topper Golf program record for 54-hole score Monday, surging to a four-stroke individual victory in the team’s season opener at South Alabama’s USA Intercollegiate.

The individual title is the fifth in the career of Joiner, who already held the program record. She claimed another record by finishing the tournament with a three-day total of 208 (71-68-69), three shots better than Ellinor Haag’s previous WKU benchmark of 211 set in 2014.

Joiner owns five of the top six 54-hole scores in Lady Topper history.

“It feels so good to get the win this week,” Joiner said. “I played really solid and have a lot of positives to take away, but still a few things to improve on. I’m so proud of this team and can’t wait to see all the things we can do this season.”

The Franklin, Ky., native Joiner came into the final day at the par-72, 6,002-yard RTJ Magnolia Grove-Crossings Course tied for second individually and three shots back of Stetson’s Hanna Kiefer.

Joiner quickly took sole possession of the lead in the early holes of Monday’s final round, then had to fight to the finish to hold off California Baptist’s Erica Wang.

As Wang took a few steps back in the final holes, Joiner kept pushing forward, birdieing her last hole for good measure to finish the event at 8-under – four shots ahead of Wang. Joiner and Wang shared the tournament lead for total birdies with 14 apiece.

"Mary is one of the best competitors I’ve ever seen," WKU head coach Adam Gary said. "When she’s in contention, she knows how to finish it. I think the record books are going to be totally rewritten when she’s done. I’m super proud of her, as well as Bailey (Tyree) and Abbie (Smee) with record performances."

Joiner’s victory took center stage, but it was just part of what was a record-breaking outing for the Lady Toppers as a whole.

WKU placed third in the team standings with an 868 (290-290-288) total, which shattered the previous 54-hole program record by 10 strokes. Monday’s 288 final round ties for the second-best single round in program history.

Juniors Bailey Tyree (69-74-72) and Abigail Smee (72-73-70) each tied for 11th individually with their best performances to date, turning in a pair of career-low 215s.

It was Tyree’s best effort by seven strokes and Smee’s best by 14. Smee’s 2-under 70 on Monday was the best round of her career.

Sophomore Megan Clarke finished with a 230 (78-75-77) total, while freshman Lizzie Loy ended at 238 (80-81-77) in her first career outing. Sophomore Caroline Cavin shot a 234 (78-76-80) as an individual.