Freshman players have been a strong force for the Ole Miss women’s golf team this year, contributing to the team’s victory at the Magnolia Invitational at Old Waverly Golf Club this past weekend. It marked the first team victory since the 2015 Samford Intercollegiate.
On an individual level, freshman Julia Johnson has been tearing up courses across the nation and obtained her first collegiate title in a thrilling two-hole playoff at the Magnolia Invitational.
“When the playoff started and we were driving back to the 18th tee, I felt this weird sense of calm come over me,” Johnson said. “I just knew that the outcome was going to be what I wanted it to be.”
Johnson and her opponent Abby Herrmann from Memphis battled out two gut-wrenching pars on the first hole of the playoff and headed to the par-3 second. After virtually equivalent drives, the Louisiana native put her second shot comfortably on the green, while Herrmann left hers in the rough just outside the putting surface. Struggling to chip out of the rough, the Memphis sophomore left Johnson with two putts to clinch the victory. Sinking her par putt, Johnson secured the 21st individual title in program history and its eighth sweep of both the individual and team honors.
“Getting an individual win and a team win at the same tournament is an incredible feeling,” Johnson said after becoming the first freshman in school history to win a 54-hole tournament. “And winning the tournament in a playoff made it feel even more special.”
Freshman Conner Beth Ball was also a huge contributor in the win. Ball, who is the No. 1 junior player in Mississippi, has already had a top-five finish in her young college career. In securing the second, her final round score was the lowest on the board for the Rebels.
‘This was a great tournament for me,” Ball said. “The team has worked so hard these past couple of months. It’s great to see hard work pay off.”
Ole Miss and Mississippi State co-hosted the Magnolia Invitational at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, marking the first time the two rivals joined forces to host a tournament. One of the top courses in the nation, Old Waverly will host the U.S Women’s Amateur Championship in 2019 and made winning the weekend just that more meaningful.
“The fact that we won the tournament at the Mississippi State golf home course makes the win even sweeter,” Ball, a Mississippi native, said.
Not only did the victory make history for the Ole Miss women’s golf team, but beating No. 17 Auburn and No. 23 Tennessee, among others, will improve the squad’s overall ranking.
Senior Katy Harris, a 2016 Palmetto Intercollegiate Champion and a top-20 finisher at the Magnolia Invitational, believes that the freshman showing proves Ole Miss’ team is the strongest its been in years.
“Any time you have two freshmen who both end up in the top five, well, it helps tremendously,” Harris said.
Freshman Macy Holliday also made an impressive collegiate debut at the Magnolia Invitational and marked a top 30 finish. Holliday, who is Johnson’s roommate, said she could barely watch when her roommate went into the playoff.
“It was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences,” Holliday said. “At one point, I was shaking since I knew how much the win would mean for her.”