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SMC Golf: Belles qualify for NCAA Tournament

Observer Staff Report | Monday, April 30, 2012

Qualifying for the NCAA championships has become a regular occurrence for the Saint Mary’s golf team, as the Belles punched their fourth straight ticket to the NCAA Division III championships at Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Ind.

Saturday’s MIAA conference qualifying tournament was the culmination of a three-day competition that the Belles had control over since the first tee. Saint Mary’s had a 22-stroke advantage over second place Hope after the first two rounds, and held on to the lead Saturday.

On Saturday, Saint Mary’s tied with Olivet on the final day of competition as both teams shot scores of 328. One shot behind Saint Mary’s and Olivet was Hope, which shot a score of 329.

Sophomore Doyle O’Brien once again took charge for the Belles and shot a 77, with a front-nine score of 38 and a back-nine 39.  O’Brien shot the lowest score in each of the three conference tournament rounds for Saint Mary’s.

Senior captain Christine Brown took 16 strokes off her last performance and shot an 81 which was good enough for the second lowest score of the day for Saint Mary’s.

The Belles’ Saturday performance followed two earlier rounds in which the team shot scores of 324 and 334. The first round score of 324 put the Belles ahead by 21 strokes over the field, and they managed to remain in first after the second round 334. The cumulative score of 986 ended up 23 strokes ahead of second place Hope.

Saint Mary’s played at Zollner Golf Course in the fall and shot a team score of 342, but with a new cast of golfers returned from studying abroad, Saint Mary’s will look to shoot a much lower score this time around. Against the most competitive field Saint Mary’s has faced all year, the Belles will rely on consistent performances across the board.  Methodist University has won the Division III NCAA championship a remarkable 12 times in a row. The Belles will tee off as the tournament begins May 8 in Angola, Ind.