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SMC Golf: Belles finish fifth at Illinois Wesleyan

Brendan Bell | Monday, April 16, 2012

Saint Mary’s faced its toughest competition this year at the Illinois Wesleyan Spring Fling, and rose to the level of play, placing fifth of 18 teams, with a total score of 660 over the two-day tournament.

“We shot the ball well today and we were a few shots out of third place,” Belles coach Mark Hamilton said. “It was a great showing overall, and I was very happy with it.”

Sophomore Doyle O’Brien shot the lowest score of the first day for the Belles with a 78, setting the tone for her teammates for the rest of the tournament. She then followed it up with an 81 on the second day to put her in third place in the individual rankings for the weekend.

O’Brien’s success followed after shooting a score in the 70s at the Southwestern Invitational in Georgetown, Texas, the week before, making it three-consecutive rounds where she has shot the lowest score for Saint Mary’s.

“She just hit the ball well and has been all year,” Hamilton said. “She just needs to keep doing what she does best, and strike the ball.”

Close behind O’Brien’s 159 total score for the tournament was senior captain Natalie Matuszak, who put up a combined score of 165. Sophomore Paige Pollak shot a 168, and senior captain Christine Brown shot a 171 to help the Belles as well. After shooting 325 as a team in the first round,

Sunday the Belles moved up one more spot on the leaderboard by avoiding the miscues that hurt many teams.

Sunday’s wet weather caused the average scores for the round to go up nearly 15 strokes per team, but the Belles beat the average and shot a 335, 10 shots higher than their

first day score.

Among the tough competition was No. 3 DePauw, which had the lead for the entire tournament, and shot a total score of 634. No. 4 Centre College placed three strokes behind DePauw. No. 6 Wisconsin-Eau Claire and No. 16 Birmingham-Southern placed third and fourth, respectively, while Saint Mary’s rounded out the top five.

The Belles’ attention now has shifted towards the national scene, as they hope to make the NCAA championships.

“Our goal is just trying to get to nationals, and over the last rounds of the tournament just take it to the other teams in it,” Hamilton said. “It’s going to be a good battle and I’m hoping we come out on top.”

The Belles will continue to prepare for their upcoming NCAA qualifying matches in order to make the NCAA Division III championships. The first round of the NCAA qualifiers will be tomorrow at Wuskawhon Players Club in Holland, Mich., starting at 2 p.m.

Contact Brendan Bell at [email protected]