The University of Victoria Vikes women’s golf team moved up four spots, from 16th to 12th, after they had by far their best day as a team so far at the NAIA National Championship in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on May 24.


“Not a bad day for the team and we got out of the gate great,” said Vikes assistant coach David Rands. “Nicole, Rhiannon and Cadence all birdied one of the hardest holes on the course, No. 11 – our second hole of the day – and it looked like it was going to be a special day. We did leave a lot out there and we need to clean that up.”

Posting a team score of 318 saw the Vikes improve by eight strokes on their round from the second day of action. Their three-day tally of 969 has the team sitting between William Carey University (967) and Northwestern Ohio (970). With William Penn just four strokes ahead of the Vikes in tenth-place, they are well within striking distance of their first top-10 finish at the National Championship since 2010.

“Our first goal was to make the cut and now that we have done that, we are looking at the top-10,” said Rands. “The key to scoring low here is to keep the ball out the water, you are going to make double-bogey or higher if you end up in the water, and there is water on every hole.”

Second-year Vike Rhiannon Jones posted by far her lowest score of the tournament, carding a three-over-par 75. Jones birdied holes No. 11 and 17, while also shooting par 13 times in the round.

Nicole Gargarella also found the groove in her third time through the course. Her round of 78 was six strokes better than the 84 that she posted on Wednesday and was a nine stroke improvement on her opening round. Like Jones, Gargarella birdied the par-four hole No. 11.

Also finding one birdie on the day were the three remaining Vikes: Melanie MurchisonCadence Hellmann and Quinn Fitzgerald, who finished with rounds of 82, 83 and 85 respectively.

Hellmann continues to lead the team on the individual leaderboard in 22nd. Following Hellmann are Jones in 43rd, Gargarella in 69th, Murchison in 75th and Fitzgerald in 80th.

UVic will open the fourth and final round of play Friday morning at 5:45 a.m. PDT. Fitzgerald will tee off first on the 10th hole followed by Murchison (5:54), Gargarella (6:03), Jones (6:12) and Hellmann (6:21).

12th – VICTORIA (325-326-318: 969)
T22 – Cadence Hellmann (74-78-83: 235)
T43 – Rhiannon Jones (81-84-75: 240)
T69 – Nicole Gargarella (87-84-78: 249)
T75 – Melanie Murchison (89-80-82: 251)
80 – Quinn Fitzgerald (83-85-85: 253)