The women’s golf team will be anxiously awaiting a phone call next Monday that they would rather not be waiting on.
That is because the team failed to win the Big East Conference Championship yesterday at the Oxmoor Country Club in Louisville, Ky. A win would have assured the team a spot in the NCAA East Regional Tournament in Baton Rouge, La., next month.
The Bulls must now wait on a committee to decide if they are among the top 21 teams in the region, which would allow the team at least one more tournament this season. Despite not winning the Big East, coach Kelly Lagedrost still likes the team’s chances to qualify.
“We’re in the toughest region. I still think we’re in the top 21. We have a good chance. I don’t want to get the team’s hopes up, and I don’t want to be negative. So we’re just waiting for April 30 at 4 o’clock,” Lagedrost said.
USF shot a 916 to place third in the seven-team tournament, losing to the University of Louisville and Notre Dame. Louisville edged out Notre Dame in a playoff to win the tournament after both teams scored 891 after three rounds. Lagedrost wishes the team had capitalized on its opportunity.
“We had a couple solid rounds, but our second round threw us out of it. Notre Dame and Louisville just played solid every day. We wanted to come in and win this, but some weeks go better than others,” Lagedrost said.
All five of the USF women’s golfers finished in the top 25 of the tournament, with two – Christina Jones and Gennifer Mendez – finishing in the top 10. Kylene Pulley finished in 16th place, shooting a 236, while Jessica Buchta and Mary Calderon finished one stroke apart, scoring 242 and 243, respectively.
Jones scored a 217 and Mendez finished at 230, both becoming part of the 2007 Big East All-Conference Team because of their top-10 finishes in the championship round. Mendez finished in a tie for 10th while Jones concluded another tournament in the top five, placing fourth overall.
“Christina played solid. I’m so impressed with her play right now,” Lagedrost said. “All season, she hasn’t finished worse than No. 4. She’s really in that zone. Her game has definitely come around and she’s just getting to that next level.”
Jones had her sights set on winning the individual medalist honors going into the final round Tuesday, but is happy with her overall play. Louisville’s Cindy LaCrosse won the individual portion of the tournament.
“Today was a grind,” Jones said. “I was only two strokes back somewhere in the front nine and thought I could make a run. Then Cindy from Louisville made three birdies in a row, so I kind of knew I was playing for second. But I had a really good time.”
Some teams consider a third-place finish an achievement. However, the Bulls were hoping to beat Notre Dame and Louisville, whom they consider their rivals. First-year Notre Dame coach Susan Holt coached at USF for 14 years before leaving last fall for Notre Dame.
“With Susan (Holt), our old coach being with Notre Dame, we really wanted to beat them for pride. And Louisville seems to edge us out all the time, and we’re sick of it,” Lagedrost said.
It took some time for Jones to get used to seeing her old coach in Notre Dame’s colors.
“It was a little awkward seeing her coaching somebody other than me on the same hole. It was a little difficult at first, but I got used to it. She still wants us to play hard,” Jones said.
Men’s team finishes 11th
The men’s golf team wishes it could erase the Big East Tournament, as it placed 11th out of 12 teams.
Coach Jim Fee emphasized the team’s desire to win the tournament all year long and is dejected after a poor finish to the season.”The team did not play well,” Fee said. “It’s disappointing. It was just not a good tournament for us. I wish I had a better excuse.”
Daryl Fathauer from the University of Louisville took the individual title, leading his team to victory. USF shot 921 compared to Louisville’s 844.
Fee said the team’s poor play may have been the result of difficult conditions at the Cardinal Club in Louisville, Ky. The roughs and greens were like nothing the team had seen all season.
“We did not adjust well to the conditions,” Fee said. “The roughs were very long, and the greens were fast and hilly. If you were off the fairway, it made for very difficult shots onto the greens.”
Tyler Hitchcock also felt the conditions were a factor. He shot 19-over 235. “I think a lot of our weaknesses were brought out on this course,” Hitchcock said. “The course did not suit our game. I only hit 21 of 54 greens, which is really bad.”
Kevin Tilbury led the Bulls, carding 227. Raj Nahal and Jason Elliott scored 232 and 234, respectively.
Senior Justin Fetcho was disappointed to end his career at USF on a low note. Fetcho finished with a tie for 43rd with 230. “It’s like I wasn’t even here,” Fetcho said. “It didn’t go too well. It wasn’t really the way I wanted to end it out here.”