Katelyn Dambaugh had knocked on the door at the SEC Championship as a sophomore and junior. The Goose Creek, S.C., native tied for fourth in 2015 before earning runner-up honors last year following her final-round 66 at the 2016 SEC Championship.
This year's conference tournament was again contested at the Legacy Course at Greystone Golf & Country Club, a favorite of Dambaugh's. A wrist injury prevented the Carolina standout from practicing much leading up to the 2017 SEC Championship, but the senior had always played well at the event - she boasted a sub-par scoring average throughout her first three appearances at the league tournament.
An opening-round 68 (4) put Dambaugh in a tie for first through 18 holes, and she posted a 70 (-2) in Saturday's second round to end the day two shots off the lead. She saved her best for the final day and carded a 66 (-6) to finish at 12-under 2014. Her three-day total, the lowest 54-hole score in tournament and school history, secured the long-awaited title for the Gamecock captain.
"Besides the Darius, this is the one tournament I wanted to win before I left. And I did."
Three-straight birdies on her front nine keyed Dambaugh's opening-round 68 (-4). The senior seized momentum as she approached the turn, notching birdies on Nos. 6, 7, and 8 to post a front-nine 32 (-4). She was steady over her final nine holes after registering seven pars to go with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
Dambaugh remained steady in Saturday's second round en route to a 2-under 70. She totaled 15 pars during a round that was highlighted by an eagle on the par-4 seventh. The Carolina native holed out from 88 yards after spinning the ball back towards the pin, which was positioned at the back of the green. She recorded a par on each of her final nine holes, including No. 17 when she converted a key sand save.
Her effort Saturday put her two shots off the lead in a stacked field that featured six top-20 teams. Eight golfers entered the tournament listed inside Golfstat's Top-25 individual rankings, including Dambaugh, who checked in at No. 18.
“The SEC is the best of the best. I think being able to win that says a lot.”