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SMC Golf: Sophs lead Belles in Myrtle Beach

Bill Brink | Friday, March 9, 2007

Saint Mary’s will be led by four sophomores as it travels to Myrtle Beach, S.C., March 17-18 to open the spring season.

Sophomores Meredith Fantom, Perri Hamma, Meaghan Fontein and Molly Goldsmith are joined by junior Katie O’Brien and freshman Theresa Tonyan in the 10-team event at Fairfield University. Belles coach Mark Hamilton expects to see a fairly tough field.

“There are five Division I teams, three Division II teams, one NAIA team and us,” he said. “It will be pretty stiff competition.”

Unable to practice outdoors in the winter, the Belles have made good use of indoor facilities. The team practices chipping and putting on Notre Dame’s campus and takes full swings at Bobick’s golf shop.

Hamilton said the winter provided the coaches and golfers with time to study videos of their swings and correct any problems. Both Hamilton and O’Brien have said that the tight cuts around the greens will be crucial.

“We worked pretty hard on the short game this winter, more than we ever have in the past, and that’s usually the first thing that goes in the winter,” Hamilton said. “We work on the short game and then we work on any mechanical issues that the ladies have in there swings. That’s when we try to get that taken care of.”

O’Brien agrees that emphasizing the team’s short game is important because of the long winter months. She said the Belles have spent a lot of time chipping and putting. And, so far, her coach has seen it pay dividends.

“To the person, I’ve seen improvement in talent,” he said. “It’s been a good off-season for working on the swings and short game.”

O’Brien said the winter has been a chance to recharge and get a fresh start to the spring season.

“I think that the gap between seasons was a well needed break for our team,” she said. “We are all refreshed and ready to start play again.”

Hamilton said he expects O’Brien to lead the team. O’Brien, who was second on the squad in the fall with an 87.3 round scoring average, missed a portion of the season with mononucleosis.

“She would have been All-conference, but she didn’t have the required number of rounds,” Hamilton said. “So we’re expecting her to lead the way.”

Hamilton acknowledges that the lack of real competition will have an effect on the golfers.

“Getting out on the golf course, we’re definitely going to be a little rusty,” he said.

To counteract that lack of playing time on the course, the team will travel to Pinehurst, N.C., to prepare for the tournament.

“Our team is looking forward to spring break in Pinehurst,” O’Brien said. “This should be a great opener for our spring season.”