CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina – The 19th-ranked Michigan State women’s golf team held off some of the best teams in the nation to win the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational on Sunday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Spartans shot a 1-over-par 289 on Sunday at the UNC Finley Golf Course and finished the tournament 12-under-par 852 (286-277-289) to edge No. 16 Alabama by one shot.
The Spartans captured both trophies on Sunday as sophomore Valery Plata claimed individual medalist honors. Plata won the tournament at 11-under-par 205 (69-68-68), topping Alabama’s Kenzie Wright by two strokes.
Sunday’s Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational title was the Spartans’ second as they also won the tournament, which is played at North Carolina’s home course, in 2009. Plata’s individual title was the first by a Spartan at the tournament.
“We played really well yesterday and got off to a good start on the first day,” MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said. “The third day is always a great test of any team and we talked about winning this tournament 10 years ago and the tradition of playing here as one of the best teams in the country.
“When you get an opportunity like this – especially in a field like this – you have to take advantage. We stayed tough through the rain today and did a great job.”
The Spartans came out on top of an 18-team field that included second-ranked Wake Forest, 2019 national champion Duke and ninth-ranked Arkansas, and a total of seven teams in the top 20.
“I want our team to understand we can play with anyone,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “We just have to keep working and we can be one of the best teams in the country.”
Plata came into the final round tied for first place. After starting Sunday with a bogey, she bounced right back with a birdie on No. 2. She added two more birdies to make the turn at 2-under-par. Plata continued her steady play with seven pars and a birdie heading to the 18th hole. She sealed her first tournament win with a birdie on the final hole.
“What makes coaching so much fun is to watch the growth as a person and as a player,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “Valery had a good year last year and was in position to win at the Fossum a couple weeks ago, and today she got it done. She beat an incredible field.
“It can be a little scary when you’re in a position to win your first tournament. I’m really proud of all of them today.”
Allyson Geer-Park put herself in position for a top 10 finish after a 6-under-par 66 on Saturday. She fired a 3-over-par 75 in Sunday’s rain and wound up tying for ninth place at 3-under-par 213 (72-66-75).
Yurika Tanida shot her second straight 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to finish tied for 13th place at 2-under-par 214 (74-70-70). Tanida overcame a bogey on the second hole with three straight birdies. She went on to par every hole the rest of the way.
“Yurika was very consistent today,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “I walked with her yesterday when she made birdie after birdie and she has that capability.”
Nina Rissi (74-73-76) and Haylin Harris (71-73-79) both tied for 57th place at 7-over-par 223. Rissi shot a 4-over-par 76 on Sunday, while Harris had a 7-over-par 79.
The Spartans, who have now won their last two tournaments, will wrap up the fall with the Landfall Tradition, Oct. 25-27, in Wilmington, North Carolina.