The women, ranked No. 2 in all of NCAA Div. III women’s golf going into the tournament, finished as expected and took top honors. The men, however, did not finish their season as they had hoped and finished fourth out of nine teams competing.
With their seventh Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title in the last ten years, the women are off to nationals. Heading down to Texas last Thursday, they shot a combined third-round of 325. The team dominated the field and finished 74 strokes ahead of second place Centre College over the course of the three rounds.
Leading the Tigers over the weekend was freshman Paige Gooch who took medalist honors in the conference tournament with her 235 finish. Along with the best score, Gooch was named SCAC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
The winning comes as no surprise to Gooch, her teammates or head coach Vince Lazar who have seen her develop and improve as a player throughout the year.
“It feels amazing to win and I’ve been working hard all year, and have come so far,” said Gooch. “My biggest improvement has been the mental aspect of the game, which Coach Lazar emphasizes a lot.”
It is not individual performances that have fueled this team to success, however.
“We all trust each other and know that our teammates are there when we need them, whether on or off the field,” said senior and team captain, Natalie Gough.
Playing at an unfamiliar course would have been challenging enough but coupled with intense winds and heavy heat, the men’s team had trouble getting into a rhythm.
“We had high hopes heading into the tournament but when it came time to make shots we did not play at the level we had been at all season,” said senior Chase King.
The top performer for the men, junior Ryan Berra shot a 248 which was tied for eighth and earned him all-conference honors.
Despite their strong performances, no one on the team was thrilled with their performance and everyone wanted a second shot.
“It’s disappointing to have our season end the way it did, but we know that one tournament doesn’t define our season and it’ll drive us to get better next year”, said freshman Graham Singer.
The women are looking to finish their season on the best note possible as they head down to Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida to compete in the 2011 NCAA Div. III women’s golf championship May 10-13.
“Within these next two weeks, we’ll be practicing hard to prepare for the course in Florida while strengthening the mental side as well so we can bring home the title,” said Gooch.
The team is excited to hit its links again on a familiar course and see if they can’t bring home the hardwood. All indications say they have more than just a good chance.