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SMC Golf: Belles take lead after first round

Jack Hefferon | Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Despite nearly unplayable conditions, No. 12 Saint Mary’s grabbed a three-shot lead in the opening round of the Southwestern University Invitational in Georgetown, Texas, to come out of day one in first place.

In their weekend practice round, the Belles were greeted by a very open course at Teravista Golf Club. The weather was fair, and low scores seemed ready for the taking. But when the Belles took to the tee Monday morning, they were met by 30 mph winds, with gusts blowing up near 50 mph. According to senior captain Mary Kate Boyce, the wind was almost indescribable.

“There were pretty rough conditions out there today,” Boyce said. “The winds were blowing up in the 30s and 40s, and unless you saw us playing in it you couldn’t really understand how windy it was.”

With the extreme winds, scores ballooned as well. After shooting a stellar 302 as a team in the first round of their last tournament, the Belles score rose to 345 Monday. However, it was still strong enough to earn Saint Mary’s a first place standing.

The Belles had several strong performances Monday, earning their lead by finding ways to go low despite the conditions. Freshman Doyle O’Brien was the star of the day with her single round score of 82. O’Brien played her best golf after the turn — her back nine score of 39 was the best of the day.

“[O’Brien] definitely stepped up for us,” Boyce said. “The wind affected every shot out there, but she was ready to play, and she really came up big.

Saint Mary’s will look to carry the confidence of the first round lead into today’s competition. but they must shoot well again if it wants to avoid a second round similar to its last tournament. At the George Fox Invitational in Arizona, the Belles’ entered round two with a six-shot lead that quickly disappeared and landed them in second place. The competition in Georgetown isn’t easy either, as Texas-Tyler stands in second with 348 and Mary Hardin-Baylor in third with 351 amongst the nine-team field.

With similar winds expected today, Boyce believes that her team has the composure to beat both the conditions and the competition.

“Hopefully we learned something from our last tournament,” she said. “Everybody will have to focus. We expect to face the same difficult weather, but we’ll just have to take everything one shot at a time.”

Saint Mary’s second round will tee off tomorrow at 8 a.m. in Georgetown.