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Golfer place sixth at Myrtle

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Despite coming off a successful training trip, Saint Mary’s faltered this weekend in the Fairfield Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Belles finished sixth with a two-round combined total of 834 strokes, or 258 over par, in their first tournament of the spring season.Junior Katie O’Brien led the Belles, finishing 24th overall with a two-round score of 191. Sophomore Meredith Fantom finished 26th with a 197.Several variables may have factored into the sixth-place performance.”I think if you look at all the scores in general from all of the teams, all of the teams shot 10 to 15 percent higher than they normally score,” Belles coach Mark Hamilton said. “We were playing a lot of northern teams so it was everybody’s first competitive rounds. Weather was an issue, we had to play in some downpour and some cold weather.”The length of the course not only made it more difficult but also changed the course management strategies the players employed.”The course played about 6,000 yards, which is about 200 yards longer than we’re normally used to playing,” Hamilton said. “And then there were a lot of dogleg holes or hazards in the landing area, so you couldn’t hit a driver off the tee. That lent itself to having longer approach shots, and we struggled with that a little bit.”Despite the scores, the team displayed some strong aspects of play.”I felt like we actually struck the ball pretty well,” Hamilton said. “We just kind of struggled with the conditions and being our first tournament of the year, we had some first-tee jitters, but I think the ball-striking we did quite well.”The tournament also highlighted the areas of the Belles’ game that require improvement, such as mid-range pitches that caused Saint Mary’s some trouble.”We had some issues with our 20, 30 and 40-yard shots, probably because the dormant grass down there makes those shots very hard, but we need to work on those anyway,” Hamilton said.Aside from pitching, Saint Mary’s putting was another area that the Belles will seek to improve in the spring season. It may have been related to the short game – Hamilton said the pitches needed to be closer to the pin.The team that played was a young one – one freshman and four sophomores made the trip. The youth not only put pressure on the inexperienced players themselves, but also on the older players also to pick up their game.”There were a couple players, who it was really their first time knowing their score was going to count,” Hamilton said. “And then the other players, knowing that they had to step up to make up ground, put a little more pressure on them too. Everyone was feeling a little more pressure than normal.”