Two juniors paced the women’s golf team in the season opener at the 2013 Lady Bison Invitational over the weekend, as the team used a strong third round to find themselves in a second place tie, ten strokes behind tournament winner William & Mary.
Ali Kruse and Erin McClure came up big for the Pirates. Both used consistent play throughout the weekend to grab third and fourth place on the individual leaderboard. The two hit eagles during the weekend, each holing out from 100-plus yards.
Kruse finished the tournament with a 13-over-par, 77-73-73-223, while McClure finished one stroke behind with a 14-over-par, 74-74-76-224.
For the team as a whole, it was the third round that really made the difference in the standings.
After the team’s first round score of 313, the Hall was in fifth place overall. A 311 in the second round put the Pirates in third place. The team then shot a tournament-best 298 in the final round, and the only sub-300 team score at the event.
“They looked a lot more confident day two,” head coach Sara Doell said. “They stepped onto the course like, ‘we got this.’ Sometimes trying to come from behind is easier than having a lead trying to defend it. I think they just got the nerves out.”
Kruse attributed the 13-stroke difference between the second and third round scores to the play of sophomores Karlie Zabrosky and Meghan Tenhundfeld and junior McKenzie Cutter, who all saved their best for last.
“I think our first two rounds were average at best,” Kruse said. “Everyone was ready to make up strokes the next day, and ready to fight back. (McClure) and I played really solid the entire weekend, but our other three teammates really kicked it into gear on the last day. That really made the difference.”
Zabrosky finished the final round with a 3-over-par, 73, the lowest score of her collegiate career. She finished the tournament tied for 19th with a 26-over-par, 79-84-73-236.
In her third round, Cutter was able to cut six strokes off her second round score, shooting a 6-over-par, 76. She finished the tournament tied for 35th with a 33-over-par, 85-82-76-243.
This was the first tournament for Cutter since the fall of last year. A back injury forced her to miss the entire spring season.
Two strokes behind Cutter was Tenhundfeld who cut two strokes off her third round score. She finished the tournament with a 35-over-par, 83-82-80-243.
“It was a nice way to start,” Doell said. “I think that finish last year lit a fire under them, especially [Kruse].”
The Pirates finished sixth at the 2013 Big East Championship, which was a disappointing end to a very successful season. Starting off the fall season with a strong performance was important for Kruse.
“That last round of 298 was huge for our team and huge for us to know that we can produce good scores, and moving forward that we’re capable of breaking 300,” she said.
The team has five more tournaments this semester and will look to improve on their performance last weekend.
Kruse said a key to her performance is to focus on what she can do to improve her own scores, not where she finishes in a tournament’s field.
“I’m not big on keeping stats,” she said. “I can control how well I play, but I can’t control if I get first or 20th. That’s based on other players. I can’t control how they play.”
The team is back in action this weekend as they’ll compete in the Princeton Invitational.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.