Improvement boosts confidence, but there are strokes still left out on the golf course, IU Coach Clint Wallman said.
After a 14th-place finish in their first event of the season, the Hoosiers looked to refine
The squad prevailed at the Westbrook Invitational on Feb. 26 and 27 to make their first top-five finish of the season, posting a tournament-total 879. Sitting in 86th for the GolfWeek/Sagarin Rankings, the Hoosiers tied for fifth with No. 77 Iowa. Illinois was victorious at the event, carding a tournament-total 853.
IU was among 12 teams competing at the Westbrook Village Golf Club in
Senior co-captain Kristtini Cain led the team in its first top-five finish since the IU Fall Invitational in October, in which they also finished fifth. Cain fired a three-under-par 69 in the first round with four birdies. She kept the streak going the first day with a 71 and tied for seventh after a final-round 74.
“I just wanted to play good golf and to shoot good numbers,” Cain said. “If I did that, I knew I would be in the hunt. After my first two rounds, I can’t be disappointed.”
Cain said her strong iron-play carried her through the rounds, but she struggled with putting. In both of her first two rounds, she birdied the second hole, which was a 163-yard par-three.
“In the first round, I hit six inches away for a tap-in birdie and made a 15-foot putt in the second round,” Cain said. “It was one of my last holes in the final round, and I didn’t hit a great shot, but a good two-putt.”
With a few weeks before the next tournament, Cain said she hopes to work on her 10- to 12-foot putts.
Junior Pamela Burneski continued her consistent play from Florida, where she led the Hoosiers in their match against Wisconsin and in competition play at the Central District Invitational. Burneski tied for 16th after posting rounds of 72-74-73, her personal best for a 54-hole event in the 2011-12 season.
“I’m becoming more comfortable with my game and what I need to do to get the ball in the hole,” Burneski said. “By playing more and getting out on the golf course, I can figure out my game more in different situations.”
Cain and Burneski led the Hoosiers in their last event, the Central District Invitational, in which they both tied for 42nd.
Freshman Elizabeth Tong finished three strokes behind Burneski to tie for 27th, while juniors Rosie Davies and Kate Coons tied for 46th and 49th, respectively.
The squad will have more than two weeks of practice time until the Lady Jaguar Classic in Augusta, Ga., on March 16 and 17. Wallman said continuously playing and practicing will be key to being comfortable in future tournaments.
“For the most part we did really well,” Wallman said. “Certainly, we have stuff to clean up, but it was a positive step for the girls.”