Although IU Coach Clint Wallman said the team struggled with illnesses this weekend, the women’s golf team scratched out a third place finish at the Mary Fossum Invitational at Michigan State on Sunday in East Lansing, Michigan.
Senior Ana Sanjuan and junior Alix Kong each shot a 6-over-par 222 in three rounds to lead the Hoosiers to a team score of 902 (+38), for the two days. Tournament winner Miami shot a team score of 860 (-4) to finish 42 strokes ahead of IU. Sanjuan and Kong tied for seventh place in the individual standings.
Sanjuan led the way for IU in the first two rounds of play on Saturday with a 143 (-1), including a 2-under-par 70 in the first round. She shot a 79 (+7) in the final round Sunday. Kong shot her best round of the weekend Sunday with a 71 (-1).
Sophomore Erin Harper, the Hoosiers’ top returning player, sat out the tournament with a sickness and Wallman said other players were also not feeling well.
“I think, all things being equal, they did a great job,” he said. “I was pretty pleased with the overall effort, especially at the end of today. We had a tough start but they hung in there and they did their thing.”
Wallman said while the team missed Harper at the tournament, it provided a good opportunity for other players to get playing time.
After starting off the final round poorly, Wallman said the team did a good job of closing out the tournament, especially on the last six holes. He added that the team showed mental toughness and patience.
“We didn’t have our best stuff this weekend,” he said. “But we still kind of found a way to scratch out a third place finish, and I think that’s a testament to the girls and their commitment to being the best that they can be.”
IU finished three strokes ahead of Michigan State, the only other Big Ten team in the 12-team field. Wallman said beating them was a big boost for the team, while having both Sanjuan and Kong finish in the top 10 individually was a sign the team is going in the right direction.
While Sanjuan said she played poorly in the final round, she said it felt really good to have the support of her teammates and their strong play.
“It’s awesome because this is a team and when someone plays bad, you have support from other players playing well to make it balance,” Sanjuan said. “So it feels good because the team played well and that’s what matters.”
After the team struggled with putting in its first tournament, Wallman said the team putted better at Michigan, but there was still room for improvement.
“Putting is kind of a fickle thing,” Wallman said. “If you get it going it’s like putting into a bathtub, and sometimes it’s like putting into a thimble, so a lot of it depends on the putts you feed yourself and giving yourself the ability to convert.”
The Hoosiers’ next tournament is from Oct. 2 to Oct. 4 at the Powerade Cougar Classic at the College of Charleston.
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IU will look to build momentum as it heads to the final stretch of the season.
The No. 6 Hoosiers will face No. 4 Texas and No. 19 Florida in a two day meet in Austin, the site of this year’s National Championships.
IU has defeated both Texas and Florida for three straight seasons.