Griz finish fourth at Big Sky championship
April 22, 2014
The Montana golf team shot a 304 Tuesday, its best round of the tournament, to move up to fourth place in the final standings at the Big Sky Conference championship at the Ocotillo Golf Resort at Chandler, Ariz.
Portland State, which was tied with Sacramento State entering the final round, won its seventh title in 12 years. The Vikings (299-306-290--895) shot a tournament-best 290 Tuesday and ended up with a 15-stroke advantage over the second-place Hornets (304-301-305--910), who closed with a 305.
Southern Utah (317-303-295--915) finished third, five strokes behind Sacramento State and nine strokes up on Montana. Northern Arizona (313-305-314--932) rounded out the top five, eight shots in back of the Grizzlies (306-314-304--924).
PSU's A Ram Choi, who held the individual lead after both Sunday's and Monday's rounds, shot a 5-under 67 Tuesday, with six birdies and a single bogey, to top the field by seven strokes, the largest margin of victory in championship history.
Freshman Barbora Bakova (77-80-72--229) was Montana's top finisher. She moved up from a tie for 24th at the start of the day to a tie for 11th after shooting an even-par 72. It marks the first time since 2001 that the Grizzlies did not place an individual in the top 10.
Freshman Alexa Schendelman (79-79-76--234), the only Griz to shoot three rounds in the 70s, and senior Lindsay Reeve (82-82-76--240) both shot rounds of 76 Tuesday, but for the third straight day Montana had to count a score of 79 or higher for its team total.
"Yesterday it was putting," said first-year coach Joni Stephens, whose team shot a 314 Monday. "We were really tentative on the greens and didn't trust our lines, and that cost us. When you're taking 36 or 37 putts for your round instead of 30 or 31, that's huge.
"Today our top three played extremely well, but once again we couldn't get our fourth and fifth scorers where we needed them to be. That's something we've struggled with all season. We had good rounds out of everybody this week, it was just never together on the same day."
Schendelman and sophomore Hayley Bingham (74-76-84--234) both tied for 18th. Green (76-79-80--235) finished alone in 21st.
Bingham was tied for sixth entering Tuesday's round, six shots behind Choi, but she struggled early and never recovered. She played the front nine at 9-over and was 14-over through 15 holes before closing with birdies on 16 and 18.
"Hayley played really well the first two rounds to put herself in a position to challenge for the individual title, but she was not comfortable being in that position. That's something that takes more experience than she has at this point in her career," Stephens said.
The same could be said for Montana, which was playing the tournament with three underclassmen and four who will be back next year. The Grizzlies, who placed eighth at last year's championship, lose only Reeve to graduation.
"Next year looks really promising," Stephens said. "We went from eighth last year to fourth this year. We just need to keep moving in that direction."
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