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Irish end fall season on high note

Jack Hefferon | Sunday, October 30, 2011

From a last-place finish at the Tar Heel Invitational to a heartbreaking runner-up showing at the Indiana University Fall Invitational, it has been a somewhat disappointing fall season for the Irish. The team ended the season on a very encouraging note over the weekend though, hanging tough in an elite field to earn a top-10 finish at the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, N.C.

“It was a productive trip,” Irish coach Susan Holt said. “We beat a handful of teams that were ranked ahead of us, and the ones we lost to were some of the top teams in the country.”

Despite the tough field, Notre Dame’s golfers were able to hold their own, and then some. Senior Katie Allare had her opening round disqualified due to an unsigned scorecard, but rallied over the weekend to finish strong. Notre Dame’s two freshmen also ended their opening season well, as Kelli Oride (239, 23-over-par) just barely edged out Ashley Armstrong (240, 24-over) in overall scoring. Making the rounds more impressive was the fact that they came despite difficult conditions.

“The conditions proved to be quite difficult,” Holt said. “It was chilly and cold all this weekend. For the quality of players that were there, the scores were high, and that was due to the challenging weather conditions.”

Notre Dame’s best score of the weekend, though, came from senior captain Becca Huffer. Coming off her individual title at the Indiana University Fall Invitational, Huffer climbed the leaderboard with a Sunday score of 73 to notch a top-10 finish in the elite field.

“Tenth place is very good for the level of competition that was at the tournament,” Holt said. “She put together a very solid final round [and] was under par for most of it until the final few holes.”

The Irish were also helped greatly by sophomore Kristina Nhim, whose consistency was rewarded with a 16th-place finish. Nhim shot a 76 on Friday, and followed that up with two rounds of 77 on the weekend to conclude her season.

“[Nhim] finally played three consistent rounds,” Holt said. “I’m very happy for her to get her game together and put up good numbers.”

With the fall season over, the Irish will now have several months to prepare, practice and make some adjustments before they open up the more pivotal spring season. The opening tournament of the season, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Classic, tees off in just over four months. With a season’s worth of results to work with and so much time to improve, Holt believes her team will have to utilize every single practice in order to excel next year.

“We need to do a lot of things better for the spring, especially since the schedule will be challenging,” Holt said. “Our winter practices must be productive.”