GVSU women’s golf finishes third in season-opening Las Vegas Desert Classic

GVL / Emily Frye    
Alex Amos during the 7th Annual Gildas Club Laker Fall Invitational on Sunday Sept. 25, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Alex Amos during the 7th Annual Gilda’s Club Laker Fall Invitational on Sunday Sept. 25, 2016.

Robbie Triano

The Grand Valley State women’s golf team headed west for the season-opening Las Vegas Desert Classic tournament Sunday, March 5 and Monday, March 6.

Winds reaching from 30 to 50 mph gave the entire field some trouble, but the GVSU women braved the storm as they finished in third place with a final stroke count of 636. The first day was supposed to cover three rounds and 36 holes but the winds cut the event short as only two total rounds were able to be completed.

Lee University won the women’s tournament with a team score of 611, while Missouri-St. Louis finished second with 613 strokes.

GVSU’s women’s team finished round one in fifth place with a team score of 332 as the high winds played a major factor in the Lakers’ opening round.

“Being from the Midwest, we have to work on things like playing with the wind in practices and controlling the trajectories,” said GVSU coach Rebecca Mailloux. “But you have to realize that you’re not the only ones playing in it, so we have to remember to maintain our composure.”

But when day two only brought much calmer conditions, the Lakers bounced back with a second round score of 304, bumping them up to the third place title spot.

A major factor in that comeback was senior Alex Taylor, who finished with a second round score of 70, which was the best score out of every competitor in the tournament. Taylor’s final stroke-count tallied at 154, which was the best score for the Lakers and enough to finish seventh in the individual standings.

Taylor’s second day highlight was hitting an eagle on a par four, but knew that she couldn’t let that rush of emotion throw off the rest her game.

“I was very excited but had to make sure to keep my cool because I only had four holes left in the round,” Taylor said. “During the first tournament, emotions and expectations are all over the place. I had to keep my routine the same and keep my breathing steady. During my last holes I had to remind myself to take a few extra deep breaths.”

Another Laker who cracked the individual top 20 was Julie Guckian, who finished tied for 16th with a two day total of 158 after shooting a 79 both rounds. Samantha Moss (87-78-165), Alex Amos (82-82-165) and Katie Chipman (89-77-166) rounded out the GVSU women’s lineup.

Mackenzie Blomberg finished tied for 12th at 85-72-157 while competing as an individual (score not attributed to the team total), while Maria Sol Pose carded an 83-77-160 and Morgan Janke-Wollf finished at 87-86-163, both competing as individuals.

Coach Mailloux was not only pleased with her team’s results, but was more excited that she had all eight of her players healthy to begin the season.

“It’s the first time we’ve had eight healthy people to start the season so that’s always something to get excited about to start the year,” Mailloux said. “We encountered a slew of injuries during the fall season, but now they’re healthy we can finally stop worrying about that and just focus on our game.”

One newcomer that has stood out to Mailloux and the rest of the team is freshman Chipman. Chipman had herself a successful fall season, which was highlighted by claiming the top individual performance at the seventh annual Gilda’s Club Laker Fall Invite Saturday, Sept. 24.

The Lakers will also have to factor losing last year’s Division II Individual National Championship winner Gabrielle Shipley in terms of leadership and play. Luckily for the Lakers, they have senior Taylor, who looks to take on that leadership role this season.

“After Gabby left, I can see everyone look up to me and the rest of the upperclassmen,” Taylor said. “We’re looking on being as positive as possible. For example, if you don’t make the lineup this week, use that as encouragement to improve and make it the next.

“We want that inner competitiveness with our group to get better every day.”

GVSU will travel to Georgetown, Kentucky for Saginaw Valley State’s Spring Invitational Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19.