Led by sophomore Sara Callagy, Eastern finishes ahead of three other Big Sky teams in final event of fall season
It took a little time, but the Eastern Washington University women's golf team finally got things rolling. In the final round of its final tournament of the fall season, Eastern shot a season-low 313 to finish tied for 11th out 15 teams at the Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate. The Eagles finished with a total team score of 970 (340-317-313) at The Classic Club in Palm Desert, Calif.
Eastern beat three other Big Sky teams at the event, including Montana State, Weber State and Idaho State. In the second and third rounds, the Eagles turned in the second-best score of any BSC team in the field. The Eagles finished just nine strokes back from defending Big Sky Champion Portland State, which finished ninth with a cumulative team effort of 961 (324-321-316).
"Considering the difficulty of the course, and the way things started out for us, I was thrilled with what we shot in the second and third rounds," said EWU head coach Brenda Howe. "At this time of year, this course plays a lot harder than normal because it's been scalped. There were a ton of water hazards and some tough greens."
The Eagles had a difficult opening round at The Classic Club, as evidenced by the 340 turned in after the first 18 holes. But Eastern maintained composure and found a way to sort it out before the start of the second.
"That first round was kind of like a twilight zone," said Howe. "Right from the start, everyone was struggling. Something was just off. We could not get anything to click, and we caught a lot of bad breaks on the course. But despite it all, we played through. I am really proud of the girls for the way they responded in the afternoon."
For the first time in her career, sophomore Sara Callagy led the Eagles in the 54-hole tourney. The Anthem, Ariz., native tied for 33rd out of 84 total competitors with a total score of 238 (86-74-78). Callagy's 74 in the second round was the sixth-best score turned in by any player at the event in that round.
"Sara had a breakthrough this weekend," said Howe. "Being from Arizona and growing up on desert courses, she felt comfortable with this course. She also had family there supporting her. She has been hitting the ball great all season, but she would have a few blow-up holes that would really hurt her score. This weekend, she broke through that mental barrier and didn't let that happen."
Lee carded an 89 in that rocky first round, but improved steadily from there, firing a 77 in the second and 76 in the third.
Freshman Caitilin Rice took 57th with a three-round total of 249 (87-80-82), while junior Neddy Martinez tied for 70th after a nine-stroke improvement from round one to round three. Martinez finished with a total score of 258 (90-87-81).
Eastern's 313 in the third round tied the third-lowest score by the squad in Howe's three-year tenure.
"This season, we have had good scores by our No. 1 and 2, and even No. 3, but our fourth has just killed us," said Howe. "This was the first time all season we were able to put it all together at the same time. I think the team finally realized how close we actually are, and that we can be a very competitive team in this conference."
"Now the challenge is to keep the girls motivated through the winter. Last year, we did the same thing in terms of finishing the fall season with our best scores. But then we lost some of that edge during the off-season. It's extremely important for us to build off this momentum and do everything we can to stay motivated."