Hayley Bingham improved by seven strokes over Monday's two rounds
Feb. 25, 2013
Senior Olivia Weber had her third lifetime hole in one and sophomore Tara Green later added her first as the Montana golf team opened play Monday with the first two rounds of the UC Irvine Invitational at the Santa Ana Country Club in Santa Ana, Calif.
Weber's ace came on her third hole of play in the opening round, when she eagled the 159-yard 17th hole. It sparked the Grizzlies' lone senior to a team-best five-over-par 77 in the morning round.
"I was fortunate enough to see Olivia's," UM coach Emily Milberger said. "It was one hop and in. I was ecstatic for her."
Even with the ace, Weber's opening-round 77 took some work. She had the eagle and four birdies, but she also had just six pars and seven holes played at bogey or worse.
"Olivia was up and down in her opening round, but she made it work," Milberger said.
Green's first lifetime ace came at just the right time. Through 24 of Monday's 36 holes she was sitting 12 over, but she holed her tee shot on Santa Ana's 142-yard No. 2. She would play her final 12 holes of the second round at one under and finish her day with nine straight pars.
After opening with an 82 Monday morning, Green fired a one-over-par 73 in the afternoon and is tied for 17th at +11.
"Tara was just overjoyed," Milberger said about Green's hole in one. "And it turned out to be a real game-changer for her.
"She struggled in her early round with her ball-striking, but her hole in one gave her a lot of momentum, and she ended up playing a really solid second round."
Despite the two aces Monday, Montana posted team scores of 333 and 316 and sits in 11th place out of 12 teams.
Weber (77-80) is tied for 24th at +13, freshman Hayley Bingham (85-78) is tied for 49th at +19, freshman Kyla Clancy (89-85) is sitting in 65th place, and junior Natalie Beard (93-88) is right behind Clancy in 66th place in the 66-player field.
Four of Montana's five players had improved second rounds, however, and the Grizzlies played the 5,888-yard course in 17 fewer shots in the afternoon.
"We played on really fast and firm greens today, and in the second round we learned from that," Milberger said.
Gonzaga, which won Cal State Fullerton's tournament last week in Montana's first outing of its spring season, is running away from the competition once again. The Bulldogs shot rounds of 295 and 298 and hold a 16-shot lead over host UC Irvine.
Among the Big Sky Conference schools competing, Montana is 31 shots behind third-place Portland State and 28 behind fifth-place Sacramento State. The Grizzlies lead 12th-place Northern Colorado by 10 strokes.
Gonzaga's Alice Kim shot rounds of 67 and 72 Monday on the par-72 course and holds a seven-shot lead on the rest of the field.
Montana tees off from No. 10 Tuesday morning in the tournament's final round. The Grizzlies will be playing in threesomes with golfers from 10th-place North Dakota State and 12-place Northern Colorado.
"The key tomorrow will be taking what we learned from the greens today and making sure we have some consistency in our games," Milberger said. "If we do that we can cut some more strokes and come in with a low round."
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