Griz celebrate homecoming in record style

Hayley Bingham is 6-over through two rounds

Hayley Bingham is 6-over through two rounds

Sept. 9, 2013

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Maybe somebody should have thought of this earlier. Playing at home for the first time since 1997, the Montana women's golf team shot rounds of 290 and 294 Monday at the Missoula Country Club and holds a commanding 34-shot lead at the Grizzly Invitational.

The six teams will play a final round on Tuesday morning.

Neither of the Grizzlies' scores on Monday matched the single-round program record of 288, but no Montana team has ever put together the kind of back-to-back rounds that junior Tara Green, sophomores Hayley Bingham and Phoebe Tan, redshirt freshman Alexa Schendelman and freshman Barbora Bakova did.

Montana's two-round total of 584 was 12 strokes better than any other back-to-back rounds in program history. The Grizzlies' morning round of 290 matches the second-lowest round in program annals, the afternoon round of 294 is tied for fourth.

"It was exciting for the players to be having a home tournament for the first time," said first-year coach Joni Stephens. "Some of them had family coming in, and then we had such awesome support from the staff and members of the Country Club, as well as the community.

"That always leads to excitement. The girls were definitely up for it today."

Schendelman, playing in her first tournament as a Grizzly after transferring from Oregon State, got Montana off to a solid start when she posted a score of 1-under 70 in the morning round.

But she wasn't the only player going low. Bakova, also golfing in a Montana uniform for the first time, shot a 2-over 73 in the morning, as did Bingham, which was one stroke off her career best.

Green carded a 74, Tan a 77, and those were only five of the team's seven rounds in the 70s for the round. Senior Lindsay Reeve, playing as an individual, shot a 76. Freshman Amanda Kahn, also competing as an individual, shot a 79.

Schendelman's round of 70 had her in the lead by three strokes going into the afternoon session. Her second-round 77 dropped her into a tie for fourth at day's end, partly because of the play of Green.

The only player on Montana's roster with two years of playing experience for the Grizzlies, Green shot a 3-under 68 in the afternoon, matching her own program record. She also shot a 68 in winning the 2012 Cal State Fullerton Invitational. It's a score only Jill Walker, in 2006, has matched.

Green's two-round score of even-par 142 has her in second place behind UAB's Caitlin Watts. Watts matched Green in the morning with a 74, then shot a superb 4-under 67 in the afternoon and is sitting at 1-under.

Bakova shot a 3-over 74 in the afternoon, Bingham a 4-over 75.

Montana's four scoring players are all sitting tied for sixth or better. Schendelman and Bakova are tied for fourth at 5-over, and Bingham is tied for sixth at 6-over with 2013 Big Sky Conference champion Paige Crawford of Montana State.

All seven of Montana's players are tied for 14th or better, with a pair of 80s in the afternoon as high as the Grizzlies went.

Though it was a record performance, it did not come as a total surprise to Stephens, whose first day on the job came just six days earlier following the July departure of previous coach Emily Milberger to Fresno State.

"We had several qualifying rounds this week, and I knew that it was a very real possibility that we were going to come out and play really well these first two rounds," Stephens said.

"The players did a lot of work on their own in what was a very difficult transition. They really pulled together and practiced and conditioned and were ready when I got here, and that was certainly evident in their play today."

Tuesday's round begins at 8 a.m. as Montana tries to win its first trophy since opening last season with a victory at Montana State's five-team tournament.

UAB (310-308--618) and Montana State (310-308--618) are tied for second through two rounds. Rocky Mountain (316-310--626) and North Dakota (306-320--626) are tied for fourth. Carroll (354-345--699) is sitting sixth.

When asked about the message she had for her team at the close of play Monday, Stephens said, "It's pretty much the same message I always give. Their job is to go out there and get the job done. They certainly did that today, and I don't expect any less tomorrow."



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