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ND Women’s Golf: Gebauer leads Irish to strong finish in Sin City

Chris Khorey | Thursday, November 3, 2005

It was the second-lowest three-round score the Notre Dame women’s golf team had posted all year, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a tenth place finish out of 16 teams in the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown Wedne-sday.

The 894 shot by the Irish represented the third-best score in school history, and only the second time in school history Notre Dame has shot three consecutive rounds at 300 or below.

Still, with a field highlighted by No. 3 University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), No. 4 Pepperdine, No. 5 Arkansas and No. 13 University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), the Las Vegas Showdown was a test that even an Irish squad playing at their historic best couldn’t pass.

Notre Dame head coach Debby King said playing top-25 competition is a way to build the program.

“We’re getting invited to tougher events,” King said. “We could go to the same events as we did last year and win them all, but that wouldn’t help our rankings.”

The Irish had three different leaders in each of the three rounds. In round one on Monday, junior Noriko Nakasaki led the team to a round score of 299 with an even par 72.

On Tuesday, senior Lauren Gebauer shot a 72, leaping from 60th place to 37th and leading the Irish to a team score of 295.

King said the team, which was in eighth place at the time, was excited about their low scores.

“Lauren Gebauer said to me, ‘We’re living in the 200s, coach,'” King said.

On Wednesday, the Irish slipped a little to a round score of 300, but not because of the play of sophomore Jane Lee. Lee led Notre Dame with a two-under-par 70.

“[Lee] had a great closing round,” King said. “But as a team, we did mediocre the last day. We were hoping we wouldn’t lose any ground with a 300, but we did. It was tough losing to Oregon and Missouri by just two shots.”

The Ducks and Tigers finished with team scores of 892, good enough for an eighth place tie.

King said the Irish were able to adjust to the desert terrain surrounding the fairways in Las Vegas, but not until after some early trouble.

“It was definitely different,” King said. “They didn’t really have a rough, they just had desert. There were sand and rocks and boulders and cactuses. But it wasn’t too much of a problem. The only time we had a problem was on two holes on the first day.”

UCLA, led by Hannah Jun’s 70-70-66 (206), won the tournament with a 24-under-par team score of 840. They blew away their nearest competition, Kent State, by 27 strokes. Pepperdine finished third, followed by Arizona, UNLV, Arkansas and Southern Methodist University. Colorado State, University of California Irvine, Texas Christian University, Brigham Young, Oklahoma and Eastern Washington finished No. 11 through No. 16 respectively.

The Irish missed their flight home Wednesday when the third round ran long. Because of the delay, the players will miss an additional day of classes Thursday.

To add to the problem, Notre Dame will play in the Lady Jaguar Invitational in Augusta, Ga., Monday through Wednesday of next week.

“It’s stressful for them, but up until this point, since Labor Day, they’ve only missed two days of school,” King said. “Plus after next week in Augusta, we’re done [for the winter], so they will have a chance to get caught up.”

After the Lady Jaguar, Notre Dame will not compete again until Feb. 19 in the Central District Classic in Parrish, Fla.