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SMC Golf: Hopes high after first-place finish

Matthew Robison | Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coming off an impressive first-place performance in the second MIAA Jamboree of the season Tuesday, the No. 5 Belles will test their mettle against the best teams in the country this weekend at the O’Brien National Invitational at the Warren Golf Course.

Saint Mary’s coach Mark Hamilton said the competition would be just as good, if not better than it was last year, when the Belles finished third.

“Outside of the national championships, this is the best field we’ll face all year,” Hamilton said.

Teeing off against the Belles will be Methodist University, Gustavus Adolphus, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Southwestern, DePauw, George Fox, Allegheny, Centre and Olivet. All are top-10 teams.

The first-place finish for Saint Mary’s on Tuesday is just a glimpse of the potential the Belles have yet to reach.

“We saw the tip of the iceberg Tuesday,” Hamilton said. “We’re starting to make the changes that need to be made. The players are adapting to how I coach on the course, and I’m adapting to the way they play.”

Although it was only the Belles’ third tournament of the year, Hamilton thinks his players are already nearing midseason form.

“We’re pretty close to where we need to be,” Hamilton said.

As a team, the Belles set a conference course record with a cumulative score of 321, six shots better than the previous record of 327 shot by Olivet in 2008. Senior captain Mary Kate Boyce finished tied for first, as she handed in a course record score in conference play of 78.

Finishing third in a field with the top 10 teams in the country is no easy feat, but Hamilton would like to see Saint Mary’s do even better this time around.

“I’d like to see us to better,” Hamilton said. “If we play well, we’ve got a shot.”

Going into the second MIAA Jamboree Tuesday, the Belles wanted to prove that they are the premier team in the conference. This weekend, the Belles look to prove that they are the best team in the nation.

Play is scheduled to tee off at 1 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday at the Warren Golf Course.