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SMC Golf: Belles take third in Spring Fling

Becki Dorner | Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Saint Mary’s captured third place this weekend in the annual Illinois Wesleyan Spring Fling.

Saint Mary’s two-round total of 661 was only one stroke shy of second-place William Woods University, and the Belles edged out Wisconsin Eau-Claire for third place by only one stroke.

DePauw was largely unchallenged, beating the other 10 teams handily with a final score of 634. Sarah Gates of DePauw was the individual medalist with a 78 on round one and a 75 on day two that forced a playoff win against Jana Mosseson of Lindenwood.

Senior Megan Mattia was the top individual placer for the Belles, tying for seventh with a two-round total of 162 (80-82). Many of the returning Belles had played the Ironwood Course more than a few times, and Belles coach Mark Hamilton stressed consistency and course management.

“My advice was to play as ‘clean’ of a round as possible,” Hamilton said. “Just try to stack up the pars.”

Mattia was not the only Belle to stack up the pars.

Senior captains Kirsten Fantom and Nicole Bellino led the team by example on the first day, with scores of 84 and 83, respectively.

The Belles were able to keep their scores low despite a 23-degree wind chill Saturday and rain the previous day that made the course play much longer than its listed 5,842 yards.

“Playing tough conditions throughout this spring helped us the first day,” Hamilton said.

Saint Mary’s cut seventeen stokes from their first round total to record a 322 on day two. Freshman Alex Sei’s second round four-over-par 76 from the five spot led the late charge. It marked the low round for the Belles for the tournament. Her birdie-birdie-birdie finish cemented her in a tie for 13th place overall.

Sei described her success as a combination of a few good rolls and good course management:

“I made a few great putts and did my best to stay on the fairways,” she said.

In addition to Mattia’s 82 and Sei’s 76 in round 2 play, the Belles were also bolstered by solid scores of 82 from sophomore Katie O’Brien and an 84 by Fantom Sunday.

Despite the third-place finish and recent successes, Hamilton stressed that his team still needs to work on a few areas before the NCAA Champ-ionships later this spring.

“We still need to tighten things up and be a little more precise around the greens in order to challenge the top three teams in the country,” he said. “That will be our focus for the next couple of weeks.”

Captain Kirsten Fantom echoed her coach’s concerns.

“For our coming tournament we still need to work on our short game,” Fantom said. “More practice will improve our confidence in our ability to make shots around the green, which is key.”

The Belles return to action next with the SMC/Bethel Invitational on Wednesday, April 19.