April 22, 2010

By Michael Rosengart
Special to NCAA.com

THE MARTIN DYNASTY: Senior Susan Martin had just six bogeys over 36 holes and fired a 1 under 71 and a 3 under 69 as No. 1 Methodist University had its best tournament to par in over three years at the Agnes McAmis Memorial.

The Monarchs (298-306, 604) held off the 12th ranked team in Division II, Belmont Abbey College, by a single stroke. In addition to Martin's career best 36-hole and 18-hole scores, junior Paige Caldwell had the best 36-hole score of her career as well with a 1 over 73 and a 3 over 75 for a 148. She finished tied for 5th.

Martin heads into her final national championship next month with a resume that has been nothing short of remarkable. She burst onto the scene as Div. III Freshman of the Year in 2007 and won two consecutive individual national titles in 2008 and 2009. She also boasts a 78.7 career scoring average and 10 top-5 finishes in 28 tournaments since her sophomore year.

She acknowledged that status as defending champion has put a bit of a "spotlight" on her, but maintained, "I try not to let those expectations weigh on me. I just try to set goals and. . .try to think about going out there and playing one round at a time."

She also said that she's even more confident in this team than she was about last year's that wound up winning the championship by six strokes over the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. "I think there's a little less pressure than last year and this win definitely gave us a huge confident boost going into [nationals]," she said.

Martin will graduate from Methodist's PGA Golf Management Program in December and hopes to play on the pro circuit for a couple of years after that.

No. 9 OLIVET TAKES EARLY LEAD FOR MIAA TITLE: Sophomore Lauren Campbell from No. 9 Olivet College carded a career best 2 over 75 to propel the Comets to a five stroke advantage over No. 5 Saint Mary's College (333) through the first of three rounds of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship at the Medalist Golf Club in Marshall, MI.

Campbell's round, complete with four birdies and eight pars, took medalist honors-her second in the last three tournaments. The Comets' lead over the defending MIAA champions appeared poised to be even larger, but junior Abby Wheeler suffered a 52 on the back nine to finish with a 91.

Natalie Matuszak marked a major personal turnaround with a 4 over 77 to help the Belles remain in contention. After a hot start to the spring with a 79 and an 80, the sophomore posted an 86, an 87, and an 85 coming into the playoffs. The score was also her best round to par this year. Behind her, junior Mary Kate Boyce turned in an 82, sophomore Christine Brown recorded an 86, and junior Rosie O'Connor had an 88.

No. 16 Hope College (336) is the third school in what has turned into a three-horse race for the automatic qualifying bid to the national championship. Senior captain Cassie Sneller (81) and freshman Charlotte Park (82) led the way with their best rounds of the spring.

The final two rounds will be this coming weekend at Blackthorne Golf Club in South Bend, IN and at the Warren Golf Course on the campus of The University of Notre Dame.

PURE GOLD: No. 2 Gustavus Adolphus College (316-304, 620) continued its spectacular spring with its fifth win of the year at the St. Thomas Invitational in Becker, MN.

The Golden Gusties' 307.5 average in two tournaments this spring is down 12 strokes from their fall average. The difference has largely been the result of sensational play from junior Katie Schenfeld and sophomore Taylor Drenttel who shaved 5 strokes and 6 strokes respectively off their games over the winter. Schenfeld carded a 4 over 148 in 36 holes to medal for the third straight time while Drenttel claimed third thanks to a 2 over 74 on Day Two for a 152 total.

Senior Kali Griggs (84-76, 160) and sophomore Annie Jackson (79-82, 161) both finished in the top-10 as well.

No. 3 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was the best of the rest with a 646. The team's two Minnesota natives, freshman Catherine Wagner (79-79, 158) and sophomore (81-79, 160), were the only two Blugolds to finish in the top-10. Wagner's fifth place finish was her third straight time in the top-5. UWEC has finished either first or second in all six Div. III tournaments it has participated in this year.

Eau Claire also had a second team that turned in a 665 total to take fifth.

St. Olaf College (327-332, 659), the highest unranked vote getter in the most recent coaches' poll, beat out three ranked teams in No. 19 College of St. Benedict (330-332, 662), No. 20 Carleton College (340-334, 674), and host No. 24 University of St. Thomas (351-325, 676).

St. Benedict sophomore Kathryn Hauff clinched second and set a pair of school records in the process. Her Second Round 74 broke the previous 18-hole record that she set last year and her 149 36-hole score bested the 153 mark that had stood for four years.

DE-POW!: Sophomore Taylor Beaty and freshman Camila Romero from No. 6 DePauw University went one-two at IWU Spring Fling and steered the Tigers to their third tournament victory in the past 10 days.

Beaty's (74-75, 149) medal was her first of the season and Romero's First Round 2 over 74 was the best of her young career. She finished with a 154 while senior Erin Kielty turned in a 159 to tie for seventh and sophomore Kelly Gaughan improved 11 strokes on her First Round 90 to finish tied for 33rd. Over the course of their three-tournament winning streak, the Tigers (316-314, 630) have steadily improved their scores from 338 down to the most recent 314.

No. 4 Illinois Wesleyan University finished in third place behind William Woods University from the NAIA. The Titans were just four strokes behind DePauw through Day One, but only junior Erica Woodall (83-76, 159) managed a score below the 80 mark on Day Two and the hosts finished with a 645. The final number was, however, 16 strokes below the 661 the Titans recorded at the IWU Fall Classic, also at Ironwood Golf Course, back in September.

No. 5 Saint Mary's College (335-325, 660), playing in their second tournament of the week, took fourth place with O'Connor (78-83, 161) putting up her second sub-80 score in the past four rounds. The Belles finished ahead of No. 13 Washington University in St. Louis (339-329, 668) who got several impressive outings, but took a hit when junior co-captain Kate Pettinato was one of four golfers whose first round score was disqualified for playing from the wrong tees.

GOOD LORD: Junior Hayley Milbourn helped No. 7 Amherst College (336-323, 659) pull away from the field on Day Two of the Jack Leaman Women's Championship for the Lord Jeffs' second straight win.

Wellesley College (336-333, 669) and Amherst were deadlocked at 336 after Day One and four individuals carded First Round 80s to share first place halfway through the tournament, but Milbourn followed a First Round 84 with a 2 over 74 to take the medal and lead AC to victory. Freshman Elizabeth Monty, one of the players with a Day One 80, fired an 84 during the Second Round to finish tied for eighth.

Wellesley also improved on their First Round score with a Second Round 333 and finished second just ahead of No. 11 Williams College (339-334, 673). No. 14 St. Lawrence College (347-332, 679) took fourth place followed by Vassar College (350-338, 688) and No. 22 SUNY Cortland (342-350, 692) among others.

CHIP SHOTS: Junior Ashley Lovell (78-78, 156) and No. 18 Birmingham Southern College (333-338, 671) wrapped up their regular season with a win at the Huntingdon Hawk Invitational. It was Lovell's third win of the year and the Panthers' fourth. They'll look to clinch a trip to nationals against stiff competition this weekend at the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship. . . No. 17 Centre College won for the fourth time in five spring appearances this weekend at the Old Bridge Spring Invitational. Sophomore Emily Bachert, one of D-III's elite, won the tournament with a 4 over 76. . . Senior Ellen Rickert went under par in the Second Round of the Wartburg Spring Invitational with a 1 under 71 to medal and help the hosts, ranked 15th in D-III, take home the title.