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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The Observer

SMC Golf: Saint Mary's finishes sixth versus top teams

No. 12 Saint Mary's faced some of the best competition in the country at the Illinois Wesleyan Spring Fling on Sunday, but did not back down en route to a 334-stroke day and a sixth-place finish.

The Belles traveled to Ironwood Golf Club in Normal, Ill., Saturday, ready to come out and score well from the first tee. Their excitement was dampened by rain, as tweather ended all hopes of playing Saturday, and the 36-hole tournament had to be cut to one round Sunday.

"We hung out all day at the hotel together," Belles' senior captain Mary Kate Boyce said. "We had to do our laundry since all our equipment was drenched from playing 8 holes in the rain."

Sunday came, and the Belles were able to finally take to the course as one of nine national top-25 teams in competition.

"As a team I think we did pretty good," Boyce said. "Yes, I would have liked to win the whole thing but we performed well in the conditions."

Saint Mary's final score placed it in elite company. Its team score of plus-46 was better than several national powerhouses, among them No. 7 Centre, No. 17 Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the host, No. 8 Illinois Wesleyan. Boyce led the Belles in that effort with a seven-over 81 that placed her in the top 16 of more than 100 golfers.

"Individually, I was content with my round," Boyce said. "I struggled early but I was able to make a couple putts down the stretch that helped me stay in the round mentally, and was able to hang on and finish with a decent score."

Looking ahead now, Saint Mary's will have almost two weeks to prepare for the second and third rounds of the MIAA tournament. The Belles won the tournament last year, and it sprung them to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA tournament. This year, they sit eight strokes behind rival No. 18 Olivet after the first round last week. Saint Mary's will host the final two rounds April 29-30.

"We have 11 days to prepare," Boyce said. "They will be filled with lots of practice both physically and mentally. For me, my focus was not as sharp this weekend as it needs to be so I will definitely be working on that."