For the Second-Straight Year, Eagles Take Eighth at Big Sky Championship

Stapleton's consistent play leads to career-best score and top 20 finish in final event of her sophomore season

Although the final placing was the same, the Eastern Washington University women's golf team showed significant improvement in this year's Big Sky Conference Championship, which wrapped up on Wednesday (April 20) at the Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler, Ariz. The Eagles took eighth at the 2011 tourney with a three-round total of 952 (322-314-316).

Last year, EWU also finished eighth out nine total Big Sky teams, but its score in 2010 on the same course was 34 strokes higher than the performance turned in this week at Ocotillo.

"Ideally, it would have been great to finish one or two spots ahead of where we did, but we saw a lot of promising things this week," said EWU head coach Brenda Howe. "We still have a lot of young players who are continuing to improve and mature with every tournament."  

Eastern was in seventh place after 36 holes, but Weber State came up with its best round of the entire season on Wednesday to edge Eastern by six strokes. The Wildcats shot 306 in the final round to finish the tournament with a total team score of 946 (321-319-306).

"We played decent today," expressed Howe. "But unfortunately, Weber State played better. Golf is a challenging game because you're really out there playing against the course, and not so much against a specific opponent."

"It's all about who shows up to play each day," added Howe.  "Today, Weber State was able to get everyone rolling. We had some strong performances throughout the tournament, but it just didn't happen all on the same day."

Sophomore Dana Stapleton had the best showing of her career, as she shot in the 70s in all three rounds at Ocotillo. Stapleton finished among the top 20 individuals with a total score of 230 (79-75-76). Her three-over par 75 in the second round was a career low for the sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz.

"The difference in Dana's game at this event compared to others throughout the season was her consistency," said Howe. "She showed a lot of poise on the course. She didn't have any blow-up holes, which has hurt her in the past. She was hitting greens and making putts for three-straight days."

Stapleton carded seven birdies and picked up 30 pars throughout the three-day tournament, and was among the top eight individuals at the event in par four scoring.

Senior Kellie Holmstedt, who was competing in her fourth Big Sky Championship, took 24th out of 45 total competitors. She finished with a 54-hole total of 233 (76-81-76) to improve 15 places and 17 strokes from last year. In her first year with the Eagles, Holmstedt tied for seventh at the conference tournament, followed by a 15th-place finish in 2009.

Holmstedt was one of only five players in 2011 to record an eagle at the event, which she had in the first round on the par 5, 479-yard 18th hole.

Sophomore Jayme Carbon finished third on the Eagle squad and 32nd overall with a total score of 245 (86-78-81). She opened her third round on Wednesday with a birdie on the par-5 first hole, and then picked up six pars before making the turn. But unfortunately, the Federal Way, Wash., native struggled on the back nine, carding four bogeys and two doubles to finish the day at nine-over par.

Sophomore Morgan Lee was one shot back from Carbon, as she finished with a total score of 246 (81-82-83), good for 33rd place overall. Freshman Sara Callagy shot rounds of 87, 80 and 84 to finish in a share of 40th.

Portland State successfully defended its 2010 title with a Big Sky 54-hole tournament record of 880 (303-287-290). PSU sophomore Britney Yada won medalist honors with her 6-under-par 210, which also marked a Big Sky record. Northern Arizona was the runner up at 891 (304-296-291), followed by Northern Colorado (908) and Montana (914).

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