April 2, 2010

By Michael Rosengart
Special to NCAA.com

BLUEGRASS BATTLE: No. 8 Illinois Wesleyan University continued its hot start to the season with a fifth place finish in mostly a Division II field at the NKU Spring Invitational at Perry Park, KY.

Foreboding weather conditions forced golfers to play 30 holes on Saturday and wrap up the final six early on Sunday, but that didn’t faze the Titans’ senior duo of Lindsey Haines and Alessandra Bollero. Both opened with 79s on the first 18; but while Bollero matched her First Round score for a tie for 20th, Haines fared two strokes better to tie for 14th place, best among Div. III golfers.

With a 637, IWU brought its team average down nearly 10 strokes from last week’s second place finish at Jekyll. Perhaps more importantly though, they decisively defeated 13th place No. 21 Otterbein College (333-331, 664), 14th place Wittenburg University (322-346, 668), and 15th place No. 5 Washington University in St. Louis (346-328, 674).

Like IWU, Otterbein also significantly improved on its scores from Jekyll on the strength of junior Catherine Brunohler (77-81, 158), who tied Bollero. It was sophomore Heidi Mitchell though who made the most noise as an individual competitor. Mitchell carded a First Round 76 and followed with an 80 to tie Haines for 14th and earn Ohio Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week honors. The 4 over First Round number was her career best.

Wittenburg ended the weekend on a sour note by posting a 346 in the Second Round after a 322 in the First Round, but they still had plenty to write home about. The 322 mark was a new team single round record; the cumulative of 668 was a two-round team record; as was sophomore Anne Busam’s Opening Round 75 was also good for the individual 18-hole program record. She finished with an 85 to tie for 32nd.

Despite the disheartening finish on the leaderboard, Wash U wrapped up NKU with plenty to feel good about. The Bears had an outstanding fall to garner the team’s first ranking in it’s brief two year history, but have struggled in returning to form in three tournaments this Spring. It looked like more of the same after a Day One 346, but the team may have turned the corner with a 328 on the second 18 on the back of spring-best 18-hole scores from freshman Hannah Buck (80-79, 159), senior Kris Zeschin (88-83, 171), and freshman Melanie Walsh (90-83, 173), and a season-best number for sophomore Katie Homa (93-83, 176).

As Zeschin put it,  “the glass is definitely half full right now.”

ANGELS IN THE CENTRE-FOLD: No. 20 Centre College stayed put at Jekyll Island for a match against Huntingdon College and dominated the Hawks in record fashion with a 317-399 victory

“I was both anticipating, but ecstatic about the way we were able to finish. It was a great week of golf,” said Coordinator of Golf Brian Chafin following the program’s new single round four-player record. Senior captain Marissa Cianchetti along with the freshman trio of Lauren Mashburn, Whitney Miller, and Megan Sims set the previous bar back in the fall with a 320.

This time around, sophomore Emily Bachert took the lead with a 75 and got backend support from senior captain Katie McKenna (81) and Cianchetti (83). But perhaps the biggest contribution came from Miller who made four birdies en route to a career-best 78.

Chafin added that “[Miller] has gone through her ups and downs, as most freshman do. So it’s very satisfying for her to get some good rounds and some confidence under her belt.”

The Colonels will take a week break before competing in the Transylvania Invitational at the University Club in Lexington, KY—home of the Kentucky Wildcats.

FEELIN’ FOXY: No. 17 George Fox University rattled off its seventh win in the last eight events with a compelling 39 stroke win over the four-team field at the Pacific Lutheran University Invitational.

Junior Mandy Cameron closed with a Second Round 78 for her second tournament victory of the season. Her teammates played follow-the-leader with freshmen Abby Mann and Kelsey Morrison tying for second with 164s, and juniors Sarah Askin and Brianna Nap right behind in fourth with 166s. Mann’s 164 came through a pair of 82s—her career best for 18 holes.

The win over University of Puget Sound (348-345, 693), Pacific University (368-354, 722), and Pacific Lutheran University (391-367, 758), serves as just another reminder of this team’s versatility in getting good scores from any combination of players. They’ll continue to try to work their way up the rankings in a dual match with Concordia University on Friday.

SUNY SETBACK: No. 24 SUNY Cortland fired a 375 on Day Two of the McDaniel Spring Invitational this past weekened and took a step back after a productive spring break trip where the team managed to shave 12 strokes off the four-player round score over just three days.

D-II Kutztown University claimed victory, but the Green Terror of McDaniel University took the show among the D-III ranks thanks to Jennie Weiner’s second place 167 and Morgan Koopman’s eighth place 176.

Freshman Sarah Utz, just three strokes behind Weiner, (86-84, 170) took charge for New York University, who finished third for the third time this season. Violet junior Theresa Apoznanski (86-88, 174) also slipped into the top-10 in seventh place.

St. John Fisher College sophomore Alex Battle (79-81, 160) was medalist.

Cortland State led the tournament after Day One with a 352, but couldn’t manage a sub-90 score on the Second Day for a 375. Junior Meghan Brunswick and freshman Ashley Meng were the team’s best finishers in a tie for 10th with 178s.

A TASTE OF ALISTER MACKENZIE: With The Masters just around the corner, McMurry University, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, UC Santa Cruz, and Texas Lutheran University all got to experience Alister Mackenzie, the designer of Augusta National and the “world’s greatest course architect” according to Sports Illustrated, at the Pasatiempo Golf Club for the UCSC Spring Invitational where McMurry stole the show.

Led by junior Monica Harris’ medal worthy pair of 81s, McMurry posted two 355s for a 31 stroke victory. CMS and the host Banana Slugs tied for second with 741s while TLU (381-396, 777) rounded out the field in fourth. Second place was awarded to CMS after a match of cards.

Harris’ victory was her first of the season. Three of her teammates managed to join her in the top-10.

The Athenas were just four strokes back through the first 18 holes thanks to a great First Round from eventual second place finisher sophomore Lauren Buchanan from nearby Los Altos, CA and an even better one from freshman Kristina Block who nailed a 40 footer for par on No. 9 for an 82. Buchanan had a final score of 173 with Block, at 175, right behind her in third place.

Texas Lutheran senior Angela Aufderhaar (88-88, 176) and UCSC senior Halley Sutton (84-94, 178) rounded out the top five.

CHIP SHOTS: No. 6 Depauw University competed in the UNC-Wilmington Lady Seahawk Classic as the lone representatives of Div. III as preparation for the Big Four Classic at famed Crooked Stick Golf Club next Thursday. They averaged a shade over 337 for the weekend for ninth place . . .No. 12 Southwestern University held a three stroke lead over No. 3 Saint Mary’s College through the first day of the Southwestern Invitational in Georgetown, TX. Southwestern freshman Kelsey Coburn had an even par backside on Monday to give the Pirates the edge over the Belles. University of Texas at Tyler and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor are also in the running at nine and 10 strokes off the pace respectively.