Golf celebrates fourth conference win

 

golf

 

THOMAS ELNESS

tkelness12@ole.augie.edu

Augustana women’s golf left little debate over who is the best team in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference last week when they won a fourth-straight conference championship by an impressive 61 strokes. Augustana’s Allie Ostrander, a junior, won the individual share of the tournament.

The tournament is split between two 36-hole tournaments with the first portion played in Brainerd, Minn., back in October. Augustana women left the tournament with a commanding 50-stroke lead over the next closest team, Minnesota State.

Part two of the tournament took place on April 20 and 21. Originally scheduled to be played at Dacotah Ridge Golf Course in Morton, Minn., the teams migrated south to Smithville, Mo. because of unplayable weather conditions.

Heading into a tournament with a 50-stroke buffer can relieve some pressure, but the women knew they needed to keep up the excellent play to guarantee another conference title.

“We really just tried to play as if it was another tournament and played 36 holes,” head coach Peggy Kirby said. “We didn’t want any of the conference to beat us.”

Kirby said having the lead from the fall tournament was beneficial considering their inability to get outside a lot this spring.

“I had to make sure that they had the confidence that they had when we created the large lead in the fall,” she said.

Junior Maggie Leland, second place individual finisher, also took the lead into consideration.

Leland said the team had set high goals into the second part of the tournament.

“We knew that we didn’t want to get beat by any team even just that weekend, and tying [Minnesota State] the first day we were not happy,” she said.

“We set our sights on getting all five of us in the top five for the tournament, and got close.”

The women could not sneak all five Vikings into the top five, but they did get four.  Ostrander (+25) won the tournament by seven strokes; Leland was runner-up (+32); Marisa Toiven finished fourth (+36), and Emily Kvidera followed her in fifth (+38). Augustana’s fifth team member, freshman Jennifer Pederson, finished in a solid tied-for-twelfth position (+53).

Ostrander’s quality play in the October tournament helped her claim the top individual honor, but the team title meant more to her.

“If I had to pick between an individual and team title, I would pick the team title in a heartbeat,” Ostrander said.

“The whole reason why I came to golf at Augustana is because the team was so successful and we have such a successful program. I am really thankful and grateful that I was able to earn an individual title as well, but what is really most important to me is that our team won the NSIC championships.”

Leland outscored Ostrander in Missouri, shooting a tournament-low two-over-par 74.  She trailed in third place after shooting 89-76 in the fall.

“I was just much more confident and knew that if I played well, I could work my way up from third to possibly first or second,” Leland said.

“The course didn’t play too hard and so I just tried to take advantage of my strengths and I hit my irons a lot better, which helped to make a lot of pars.  The greens were pretty bumpy so I missed a few short putts, but overall played a lot better.  Scores the second day were a lot higher, as the pins and wind made the course very difficult.”

The Augustana women hope to carry the momentum of the conference championship into the NCAA Central Region Championships on May 5-7 in St. Joseph, Mo.

Kirby said their goal is to play at the NCAA-DII Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla. on May 13. “If all five players play their best, we will be headed to Daytona Beach,” she said.