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SMC Golf: Belles take fifth in field of nine at O’Brien Invite

Casey Karnes | Tuesday, September 17, 2013

 

Saint Mary’s was unable to overcome the tough competition at the O’Brien National Invitational, finishing fifth out of the nine teams playing at the Warren Golf Course this weekend.

The Belles shot 333 as a team in the first round on Sunday, leaving them in 7th place heading into day two. Despite shooting five strokes worse with a 338 on Monday, the Belles managed to jump to fifth place due to the poor play of George Fox University and Southwestern University. Although not disappointed by the performance, Belles coach Kim Moore believes her team has yet to hit their ceiling.

“I felt their performance was okay … like they could have played better,” Moore said. “It’s never good when you go up on the second day, especially with better conditions. But I thought they hit the ball pretty decent, it was more of a short game issue.”

Sunday’s rain did little to affect No. 4 Depauw’s play, as they held off No. 17 Olivet by a 316-327 margin. Both teams shot better Monday, with Olivet notching a 320 and Depauw besting them again with 310, to finish with 647 and 626, respectively, for the weekend. No. 11 Centre and No. 3 Washington University-St. Louis also bested the Belles’ score to come in third and fourth. Despite being unable to overcome these top teams, Moore said competing against them will prove to be a boon for her squad.

“I think it’s always good to play against good competition,” Moore said. “It makes you play better, it allows you to focus a bit better, and shows what it takes to get to [a championship level].”

Belles sophomore golfer Sammie Averill embraced the challenge, as she played her best two rounds as a collegian.  Averill shot an 81, setting a new personal record and tying the second best score posted by a Belle this season. Her next round, she shot an 80, which pushed Averill into a tie for 11th in the individual standings. Moore said she was impressed with the young player’s performance.

“[Averill] struck the ball better, and was able to make way better contact,” Moore said. “She drove the ball a lot better, and consequently was able to reach more greens in regulation, and she made some good putts too. It was a great two rounds for her … a really good performance from her, and I’m really happy for her.”

Senior captain Paige Pollak and junior Janice Heffernan who finished tied for 16th (164) and 27th (172) respectively. Pollak shot an 80 on the first day to lead the Belles. Rounding out the Belles line up was senior captain Alexi Bown in 30th with a 174 score, and freshman Ali Mahoney with a score of 180.

After a strong start with an 81 in her first college round at the Olivet Invitational, Mahoney has not shot below an 89 in her last three outings.  Moore said she believes the freshman has more than enough talent to get back on track.

“[Mahoney] just needs to be a little more patient, she’s new to this type of competition,” Moore said. “It just takes some time for her. She’s definitely a great golfer, and has enormous potential.”

The Belles will look to secure a victory in their showdown next Tuesday at Albion College.

Contact Casey Karnes at wkarnes@nd.edu