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SMC Golf: No. 15 Belles take eighth

Peter Steiner | Monday, September 17, 2012

After playing with the toughest Division III competition in the nation, the No. 15 Belles ended the O’Brien National Invitational at the Warren Golf Course in eighth place with a tournament score of 670.

The Belles carded a team score of 338 on the final day of the tournament, placing them 11 stokes out of the top five. Despite the second-day struggles, the squad finished nine strokes ahead of No. 14 Whitman and 10 ahead of No. 8 Gustavus Adolphus.

“We were hoping to improve today, but we did not,” Belles coach Mark Hamilton said. “The course was playing pretty difficult. We left a lot of shots on the golf course, but overall, not too bad of a weekend.”

Freshman Amanda Graham led the Belles in the tournament with her consistent play, shooting an 83 and 82 on days one and two, respectively. Freshman Claire Boyle joined Graham on the final day with an 82, while junior Justine Bresnahan finished with a score of 85.

“Amanda Graham played very consistent golf this weekend,” Hamilton said. “She led our scoring and she is making some great strides and improving. I’m very proud of the way she played.”

Fifteen-time defending national champion and top-ranked Methodist won the tournament, closely followed by No. 5 Washington University of Saint Louis. The ten teams that competed this weekend all currently rank in the top 15 in the country.

“It was a great experience to play against the top teams,” Hamilton said. “Again, because we have such a young squad, it was great for them to see what the top players look like and know that they are not very far behind them. We have got a great future ahead of us.”

Because the tournament was held at the Warren Golf Course, it might seem as though the Belles would have an advantage playing at home. But according to Hamilton, the inexperience of his team negates this potential edge.

“All of the ten teams, except for one, have played this event for the last four years,” Hamilton said.

“They’ve actually played [the Warren Golf Course] more than a lot of our younger players have.

“It’s really not too much of an advantage, honestly. For our older players, it’s a little bit of advantage to know some of the subtlety of the [Warren Golf Course]. Because we are a younger squad, it’s probably not as big of an advantage as it will be in a couple of years.”

With the final nonconference tournament in the books, the Belles will prepare for the start of their league matches. Despite its young team, Saint Mary’s has a clear goal in mind.

“Now we start our conference schedule,” Hamilton said. “We have got a match this Thursday and Saturday. We have six conference rounds between now and Oct. 13.  Now we are looking to win the conference championship.”

The Belles hit the links next Thursday when they take on Olivet.

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu