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ND Women’s Golf: Irish finish fifth of 14 in Knoxville

Megan Finneran | Monday, October 11, 2010

This weekend may not have brought a first-place finish for the Irish, but it certainly brought success nonetheless. The team traveled to Knoxville, Tenn. for the Mercedes-Benz Championship at the Holston Hills Country Club, where they finished fifth of 14 teams.

Freshman Nicole Zhang came out tied for ninth, while junior So-Hyun Park ended tied for 13th.

The team totaled 876 strokes on the 54 holes, behind Tennessee’s first place 849. The Irish improved with each day, lowering their scores from 295 the first day to 293 the second and concluding with a 288.

“Our team strikes to always be the best, no matter the strength of the field, so we were pretty disappointed,” freshman Kristina Nhim said. “There are a lot more opportunities coming up though, so we have a lot more chances to keep improving and finishing on top.”

Notre Dame’s first-round performance was led by Zhang, Park and senior Katie Conway, who all finished the first day at 73 strokes, 1-over par and tied for 12th place. Junior Becca Huffer followed at 4-over par with 76 strokes and tied for 42nd, closely trailed by Nhim at 6-over with 78 strokes and tied for 56th place. The Irish ended the day in sixth place overall.

“I wasn’t happy with any of my performances because there’s always something that I could have done better,” Nhim said. “It’s frustrating, and I really want to improve on managing my mistakes and not letting bad shots distract me.”

The team was able to improve to a fifth-place tie with Kent State to conclude the second day of play. Park and Zhang remained steadily together, ending the day tied for ninth at 71 strokes for the 18 holes. Conway fell to 56th after shooting an 81, while Huffer and Nhim remained at their original rank with 76 and 75 strokes respectively.

The final day of play turned competitive as Zhang picked up her performance, firing an even-par 72 to bring herself up to ninth place with a total of 216, closely behind Mississippi’s first place golfer, Natalie Gleadall, at 207. Park fell one place, ending in 13th and 217 strokes, only one behind her teammate. Huffer narrowed the gap, climbing to 30th place with 70 strokes for the day and 222 total, as did Nhim who moved up to 42nd place with her 72 for the final round of play. Conway fell to 65th place as she used 78 strokes for the day.

“All of us have different aspects of the game to improve on because we all have different strengths and weaknesses,” Nhim said.

The Irish now have a weeklong break before the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, North Carolina at the Country Club of Landfall which starts Oct. 22.