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Racers earn 10th OVC crown; Folke wins back-to-back medalist

Staff report

OWENS CROSS ROADS, Ala. -- For a 10th time under head coach Velvet Milkman, Murray State women's golf is an Ohio Valley Conference champion.

Save a slight weather delay on the back nine, nothing slowed the Racers' torrid pace in Wednesday's final round at The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Hampton Cove. MSU fired 290 as a team to extend its two-day, three-shot lead over two-time defending champion Eastern Kentucky to eventually win by 10 strokes.

"It sounds fantastic," Milkman noted of being champions. "This team â ¦ they've played well all year, and for them to come down here and win like they did is just fantastic.

"We told them (Tuesday) night that 'it's not over.' Our goal was to go out and shoot the low round of the day. Our mindset was 'we're tied today,' and we had to go out and win the day."

And they did; only Jacksonville State -- who finished a distant third -- came close with a team 291.

Leading the pack for the Racers - and the field - was junior Moa Folke, who managed to earn medalist honors for a second-consecutive season by shooting 73-66-69-208 (8-under par) and edging out EKU's Elsa Moberly by three strokes.

Folke's 208 broke the OVC Tournament record set by fellow Racer Delaney Howson, who fired a 212 in 2014. She also became the first Racer since Jenny Daag in 1998 and 1999 to win back-to-back top honors, and is just the third woman in OVC to achieve the feat.

After closing her first round with a triple bogey on No. 18, Folke never looked back - shooting 9-under over the next 36 holes.

But for as good as Folke was, she was only part of the puzzle. The Racers followed a Day 1 286 with consecutive 290s, leading to an OVC total score record of 866 to topple EKU's 888 set in 2016.

MSU sophomore Linette Holmslykke finished fourth with a 68-75-71-214, OVC Freshman of the Year Lucila Puente Rodriguez settled for eighth with a 71-73-77-221, junior Anna Moore tied for 12th with a 76-76-74-226 and freshman Raeysha Surendran settled for a tie at 14th with a 74-77-76-227.

Tied with EKU after Monday and only up three strokes after Tuesday, the Racers found separation at the turn and surged in the final nine holes - picking up eight birdies with just seven bogeys and three double bogeys in the stretch.

The Colonels weren't as sharp, as they fell off pace behind five bogeys, one double bogey, one triple bogey and just two birdies as a team.

With the victory, Murray State earned the OVC's automatic bid into the NCAA Championship. The field will be announced on April 27 on the Golf Channel's Morning Drive program that airs from 10-11 a.m. CT. The NCAA Regionals will be held May 8-10 and take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Athens, Georgia, Lubbock, Texas and Columbus, Ohio. Following the regionals, the national championship will be held May 19-24 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

MSU's 10 titles have come in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2017. The rest of the league has a combined 14 titles, with Jacksonville State owning five for second in the conference.

Folke, Rodriguez and Holmslykke were named to the All-OVC Team following the championship results. Folke was also named the 2016-17 OVC Player of the Year as the seventh Racer to earn the honor, while Milkman was named the 2016-17 OVC Coach of the Year. It's the 11th time Milkman has been honored as such.

Murray State's championship was its fourth tournament title in a row - most ever in school history.

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