Laker men, women fall short after early deficits
The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s golf teams entered the final day at their respective tournaments this week looking for a comeback. Both put up a fight, but eventually fell short in their push for tournament wins.
The women, playing in Lake Elmo, Minn. at the Concordia University Invitational, made up seven strokes in the final round Monday. However, the team still finished four strokes out of first-place in their first competitive action of the season.
Sophomore Kelly Hartigan picked up medalist honors, pacing the Lakers’ balanced effort. Her final round 73 (1-over par) tied for the low round of the tournament. Combined with her opening round 76, she earned the individual title by one stroke.
“I hit the ball pretty solid,” Hartigan said. “The course was actually set up a little shorter than normal, but it was still challenging. The greens were aerated so they weren’t as smooth, so that was a little tough, but other than that the conditions were ok.”
Both upperclassmen, junior Veronica Ryan and senior Marni Weinstein, improved their scores on the final day as well. Ryan had the second-best final round for the Lakers as she shot a 76, finishing with a 155 total. Weinstein carded an 81, jumping four strokes better than day one. Sophomore Molly Esordi also demonstrated the ability to bounce back quickly, improving five strokes from the first round with an 87 on day two.
Meanwhile, making her collegiate debut, freshman Gabrielle Shipley had a strong showing, finishing tied for fourth in the individual standings. A final round 78 gave her a two-day total of 154. GVSU sophomore Cassady Kauble, playing as an individual, was also impressive in her play, shooting a 78 in the opening round and 80 on the closing day. Her 158 total for the tournament gave her a top-10 finish.
Although the team was able to gain ground, the Lakers could not catch Augustana College. Collectively, GVSU shot a 308 in the final round, the second-best team round of the tournament, finishing with a team total of 624.
“We had some good numbers and not so good numbers,” said GVSU women’s head coach Rebecca Mailloux. “A couple of the girls hadn’t really competed over the summer months due to internships. It was our first time back on the course competing, but they played solid with a nice little comeback.”
For the men, they faced one of the top fields in the nation at the University of Indianapolis Invitational. Of the 16 teams competing, 12 were ranked or receiving votes in the preseason GolfWorld/Nike Golf Division II Coaches Poll.
With the sixth-best team score (305) Tuesday in the final round, the Lakers jumped from 12th-place to finish in ninth-place, only 10 strokes outside of the top-five. It wasn’t an easy road to get there either by any means. On the opening day of the tournament, the men played 36 holes.
“It’s not easy, especially on the course we played this week, a 7,200 yard course which provides for a lot of walking,” said sophomore Jack Rider, who strung rounds of 73 and 72 together to lead GVSU.
“You get down to the end of rounds and you are really focusing on finishing strong,” Rider said. “It is something we are trying to focus on a lot as a team, what we call ‘staying in the moment.’”
Junior Chris Cunningham wasn’t far behind carding a 72 and 74 on the opening day. In the final round, Cunningham led the charge with a 74, while Rider was one shot back, with each totaling 220 (four-over par) for the two-day event.
Both squads will be back on the links this weekend. The women head to Ann Arbor to compete at the Wolverine Invitational on the University of Michigan Golf Course from Sept. 22-23. The men will serve as the host of the GLIAC Fall Invitational that runs from Sept. 23-24 at Hawkshead Golf Course in South Haven, Mich.