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ND Women’s Golf

Notre Dame rebounds to post strong season finish

| Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The final two fall tournaments saw the Irish sink into frustration before revitalizing their confidence with arguably their most impressive performance of the season.

After finishing 10th in the Mercedes-Benz Championship two weekends ago, a Sunday surge in the Landfall Tradition this past weekend boosted them into third place in a highly competitive field.

From the first tee at Mercedes-Benz Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee, the team had some difficulties. They finished the front nine at 16-over par.

The Irish ended the first day in eighth place after shooting even-par on the back nine but struggled again the second day, slipping to 10th place with a 19-over-par 303. The downhill trend did not end, however, as a 24-over 308 on the final day would leave them in 10th place.

“The end result was pretty disappointing — we really just didn’t play very well,” Irish coach Susan Holt said. “The reality in golf is that some days you have it, and some days you don’t, and unfortunately at Tennessee, everyone had some rough days.”

Holt said the poor performance motivated the team heading into Landfall Tradition the following weekend.

“The girls were upset; they were mad that they played as poorly as they did,” she said.

With this mindset, the Irish carried a chip on their shoulder as they traveled directly from Knoxville to Wilmington, North Carolina. With several days to spare, they were able to regain their focus and get some practice time at the Country Club of Landfall before the tournament.

Notre Dame began tournament play Friday in a highly competitive field that featured 10 of the top 25-ranked teams in the NCAA.

Tied for fifth after the first day with a 2-over par 290, the Irish slipped to eighth after Saturday despite playing well overall and shooting a 4-over 292. However, they maintained a strong position in the tightly-clumped field, in which eight teams sat within seven strokes of the leaders.

“It was a log-jam [on the leaderboard], and the girls knew that,” Holt said. “They were ready to play for Sunday.”

Notre Dame came out Sunday with its best performance of the weekend and propelled itself into a share of third place alongside No. 2 South Carolina, finishing the weekend with a 7-over 871 (290-292-289).

Holt said she would rank the performance among the best she has ever seen by a Notre Dame team in her nine seasons as head coach for the Irish.

“We’ve won conference championships some other big events, but I felt like this was a huge win with the strength of the field,” she said.

Of the 10 top-25 teams in the tournament, Notre Dame finished ahead of all of them except No. 11 Wake Forest, who won the tournament at even-par.

“That field was an NCAA regional-type field,” Holt said. “It should do a lot for their confidence [heading into the off-season], knowing that they can compete with the best teams in the country because they just did it.”

After wrapping up their fall schedule, the Irish will return to competition at the Westbrook Spring Invitational, hosted at the Westbrook Village Golf Club in Peoria, Arizona, on Feb. 22-23.

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