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ND Women’s Golf: Irish fall behind eight strokes after first round

Jack Hefferon | Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Irish showed no rust in their first round of golf this season despite tough conditions and tougher competition at the Golfweek Conference Challenge at the Red Sky Golf Club in Wolcott, Colo.

The team posted a total mark of 14 over par and sits just eight strokes back of the leader, UC Davis.

Wednesday’s 18 holes marked the first time Notre Dame participated in the Conference Challenge, which takes the best teams from each conference and brings them together for a 54-hole tournament at the club’s Tom Fazio Course.

According to Irish coach Susan Holt, the course was set up to be a true test for the nation’s best.

“We’re glad to have the first round out of the way,” she said. “The greens are big. They’re huge. And they’re rolling at tour speed out there, so we’ve really got to put ourselves in the right place on the greens. Also, we were the last tee time today, and it got pretty windy later on. We’re first off the tee tomorrow, so hopefully we aren’t out there for the worst part of the day again.”

Despite the difficulty of the course, several Notre Dame golfers were able to turn in great scores. Notable in the group was freshman Ashley Armstrong. Playing her first ever collegiate round, Armstrong played bogey-free golf on the front nine, and finished the day at two over par, placing her among the top ten individual scorers.

“Ashley’s a really good player,” Holt said. “We weren’t surprised at all that she played so well today. It was definitely nice to see that out of her though.”

The highest of Notre Dame’s scoring rounds came from seniors Katie Allare and captain Becca Huffer, who shot rounds of five-over and six-over, respectively.

Holt said that her senior leaders had a few missed opportunities.

“We have 27 more rounds to play this year, and this is just the first one, but they definitely have some room for improvement.” Holt said. “[Huffer] in particular is a much better player than that. She had four three-putts today, and she left herself in some tough positions on these greens.”

Even with their difficulties on the putting surface, the Irish were able to keep themselves near the top of the leaderboard by taking advantage of the par 5s and the par 3s. The team collectively shot -1 on the par 3s and -2 on the par 5s.

“The par 5s were definitely birdie holes today, most of them were pretty short and playing downwind,” Holt said. “I thought we played the par 3s very well today, though. Our assistant coaches and I worked hard on clubbing our players for those holes, and I definitely think we had the right clubs in our hands today.”

The Irish stayed well within striking distance and now sit eight strokes back with 36 holes to play. With the shifting conditions possibly striking at any time, a lead can vanish in the matter of a few holes, which puts Notre Dame in solid position to gather its first win of the year this weekend.

“I think we’re still in it, for sure,” Holt said. “We know we left some shots out there today, but we just need to keep chipping way. We know what we need to do.”

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu