The Bulldog women’s golf team unpacked its clubs from the golf shed and headed to South Carolina for its first tournament of the spring season, travelling to warm and windy Kiawah Island for the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Intercollegiate to face 33 teams from across the country.
The tournament ran Sunday through Tuesday and showed the Bulldogs’ promise. Overall the team finished 31st. Head coach Leanne Smith felt this tournament would be a tune-up to get back in the flow of golf season.
“We always have a little give here,” Smith said. “I don’t expect them to shoot as well as they did after the fall. I want them to get their feel back and ready for April.”
Over the three days of play the senior and junior leadership was apparent from the start. Excluding the solid play of freshman Hadley Jennings, the Bulldog top five included all upperclassmen. Leading the pack was senior Michelle Mathwick, and she has been one of the unquestioned senior leaders of the team this year.
Mathwick said she was satisfied with how she played, even though Monday was a tough day of play.
“I’m definitely happy with how I played so far,” Mathwick said. “Everything came together on the second nine [holes]. It’s nice to get back into the swing of things.”
Mathwick shot a 237 over three days and placed 84th in the tournament.
Jennings said Mathwick shows leadership on and off the course.
“Our seniors are excellent examples and are very smart on the course,” Jennings said. “I always know Michelle will hit the ball well in tight spots. She has a great swing, great confidence, and I definitely want to model myself after her.”
Jennings shot well under Mathwick through the three days and utilized a retooled swing throughout the tournament.
“I am very happy with my swing,” Jennings said. “I am hitting it much better than I have in my entire life.”
That swing has kept Jennings in contention with Mathwick as the low scorers throughout the tournament for the Bulldogs. Jennings shot a 256 overall and placed 149th.
Overall, building confidence was the greatest asset to becoming a better team. The “tune-up” these girls were experiencing has stressed the importance of getting back to outdoor environments.
Mathwick has faith that her team will be able to pick up on the nuances and not let the bad shots get into their heads.
“We can’t beat ourselves up if we don’t play well. We have to work toward today and also the end of the year,” Mathwick said. “Go into [tournaments] expecting that you have to make good shots.”
The Bulldogs hope to improve from their South Carolina performance in Primm, Nev., at the Jackrabbit Invitational March 14 and 15.
“We hope to redeem ourselves on the course, and we’re hoping to get ready to compete and be one of the top teams at conference,” Smith said.