Women’s golf finishes second after a strong first day showing

Jay Bushen

The Lakers were well on their way to winning the 2013 NC4K College Classic – then Mother Nature reared her ugly head.

Despite a trio of top-10 individual finishes, the Grand Valley State University women’s golf team fell just short of first place at the Jeffrey Country Club in Blacklick, Ohio on Monday as the teams’ 3-stroke lead slipped away on the second day of the event.

“We’ll always take second place,” said GVSU head coach Rebecca Mailloux. “Except it was hard to swallow this time, especially with our arch-rival finishing first.”

No. 20 California University of Pennsylvania won the 18-team event by one stroke after GVSU failed to adapt to the windy conditions while competing on a challenging back nine.

Mailloux said the weather disrupted her team’s mental focus and momentum.

“Our body language changed on the back nine,” she said. “It was a combination of things, but the conditions were definitely a factor. We just need to continue to work on the mental aspect of the game.”

Despite the frustrating finish, three Lakers still managed to showcase the team’s potential.

Sophomore Kelly Hartigan (9) was impressive throughout the tournament, carding a second-place performance individually. Hartigan finished just one stroke behind Concord University’s Steph Peareth (8), who shot a tournament-best 70 on Monday to secure the individual victory.

Hartigan wasn’t satisfied.

“I was frustrated,” she said. “I couldn’t find a way to finish (on Monday), and this is the second time this year that I’ve lost by a stroke individually.”

The GLIAC Women’s Golfer of the Week also finished second in the Las Vegas Desert Classic on March 4.

Junior Veronica Ryan (12) finished in a tie for fifth place behind a solid outing on Sunday when she led the field with a 74 stroke day. The wind, however, also disrupted Ryan on Monday.

“The back nine killed us,” she said. “It got insanely windy and we didn’t play our best. We were pretty disappointed to finish in second place. That’s not what we wanted.”

GVSU has been forced to practice indoors for most of the season due to inclement weather, something the team is not used to. In 2012, the team was able to train outside as early as February.

For the Lakers, simulating these conditions is no simple task.

“Nothing can replace practicing outside,” Hartigan said. “We hit balls inside all winter long, but it’s not the same as natural grass. We will get better as the season progresses.”

Freshman Gabrielle Shipley (14) also came up big for the Lakers, finishing in eighth place behind a 75 stroke performance on Sunday.

The trio looked especially good while teeing off.

“This is the best I’ve seen them hit the ball,” Mailloux said. “They were outdriving the competition by 50 to 100 yards on a consistent basis.”

GVSU will hope for continued success when the team travels to St. Louis, Mo. on Sunday to compete in “The Triton.”

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