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SMC Golf: Belles host MIAA tourney

Allan Joseph | Friday, April 23, 2010

Looking for yet another trip to the national championships, No. 5 Saint Mary’s hosts the second and third rounds of the MIAA NCAA qualifying tournament this weekend in South Bend sitting in prime position to take the crown once again.

The Belles trail No. 9 Olivet by just five strokes heading into this weekend and look to make up that ground and more based on their home-course advantage.

“We play these courses all the time, and that helps,” Belles coach Mark Hamilton said. “We know the greens really well, and last time we beat the next closest team by 15 strokes, so we’re hoping to replicate that.”

Saint Mary’s scoring five will consist of senior captain Perri Hamma, juniors Mary Kate Boyce and Rosie O’Connor and sophomores Christine Brown and Natalie Matuszak.

Matuszak was the low Belle during the first qualifying round, firing a 77 that was good enough for the second-best individual score. Boyce and Brown also placed in the top ten individual golfers and will be looking to repeat that performance this weekend.

The Belles will be using the momentum from their fourth-place finish at the Illinois Wesleyan Spring Fling, but hope to improve on some aspects of their game before then.

“We struck the ball well [last week], but we struggled around the greens,” Hamilton said. “We’ve been working hard on our short game and so hopefully that pays off.”

Saturday’s round will be held at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, a challenging yet fair course that will test the MIAA competitors. It is a hilly layout, featuring big greens that are easy to access but provide tough putts if the approach is not an accurate one. The fairways are wide, but an errant drive could spell trouble, so accuracy will be paramount on Saturday.

The final round will be contested at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course just north of campus. Again, accuracy off the tee will be paramount, as the fairways are lined with trees. Putting will also be challenging, as the greens can be extremely challenging.

The weather may play a large role in the results of the weekend, as thunderstorms are expected both days, as well as cool temperatures on Sunday. The rain could lengthen the course and slow the greens, adding another challenge to the Belles’ task. The end goal, however, is simple.

“We need to go out and protect our home turf,” Hamilton said.