Hartigan edges Shipley as Lakers win again

Steven Garber

An inch of snow blanketed the course enough for officials to cancel play on day one, but on day two, the Grand Valley State University women’s golf team wasn’t distracted by the poor conditions.

GVSU cruised to a commanding 16-stroke victory at the NC4K Classic with a team score of 300 ( 12) on Monday in Columbus, Ohio, for its second win in eight days.

For the second time in seven days, GVSU junior and reigning GLIAC Women’s Golfer of the Year Kelly Hartigan took home medalist honors after besting two opponents in a playoff.

The wet, sloppy course made for a challenging invite as the waterlogged fairways prevented the ball from rolling the way it should, but the Lakers had been playing in similar situations all spring.

“We haven’t really had good conditions yet,” Hartigan said. “It was almost hard to find the ball in the middle of the fairways because it would just hit and stick right into the fairways.”

Following 18 holes, three players had even pars to tie for first: Hartigan, GVSU sophomore Gabrielle Shipley and the University of Findlay’s Brooke Albers.

Shipley shot a two-under on her last nine holes, with birdies on holes one and nine to qualify for the playoff, which began back at a short and straight hole No. 1.

Hartigan, who won the Bellarmine Spring Invitational on March 24, was able to carry the momentum from her recent victory.

Hartigan and Shipley were neck-and-neck on the fairway after impressive drives, but the second shot of the playoff may have decided it. Hartigan made it safely onto the long, narrow green, while Shipley missed right of the green and chipped up to get within about six feet of the hole to salvage for par.

Hartigan’s putt for birdie was from about 15 feet, uphill and to the left of the pin. She hit it well yet came up inches short of the hole on the low side. She tapped in for par, which was all she needed.

Shipley faced about a six-foot putt for par to continue the playoff. But she pulled the putt to the left, and she ended the one-hole playoff with a bogey, as did Albers.

“Kelly and Gabby are leaps and bounds ahead of everybody in the region in terms of their drives,” head coach Rebecca Mailloux said. “For (Hartigan), it’s really all about her rhythm and tempo and timing with her swing. The last few tournaments, she’s really been hitting her driver well, and that’s been crucial for her.”

The playoff between Laker teammates was a first for Mailloux in her 11 years of coaching golf.

The battle for supremacy on the team has been an interesting one lately, with Shipley and Hartigan each owning a pair of first-place finishes in the spring campaign.

“The competition with her is definitely fun,” Shipley said. “It keeps me practicing; it keeps me on edge all the time and always trying to play my best.”

It was the same type of positive competitive nature that the team has seen the whole season, only this time it was for medalist honors between Hartigan and Shipley.

“It always pushes me to keep getting better in my game,” Shipley said.

Senior Veronica Ryan also played well in Monday’s event. She finished in fifth place with a 74 ( 2), ending the day just a couple strokes behind the leaders.

Finishing well behind the Lakers on Monday was GLIAC foe Northwood University, with a team score of 316 ( 28), and Ferris State University, which tallied a 319 ( 31). Ashland University and Findlay University tied for fourth with scores of 321 ( 33).

GVSU will look to keep its hot streak alive when it travels back to Ohio for the JBMF Cavalier Classic in North Canton on April 13.

“We’ve played really well going into one of our last matches before the GLIAC, so it’s really keeping our hopes high and keeping us practicing even harder,” Shipley said.