Men’s, Women’s Golf gain optimism from tournament finishes

Michael Pearce, Staff Reporter

While temperatures warmed up in Oakland County March 12 through March 14, the men’s and women’s golf teams were both competing in warm, sunny weather attempting to outscore nationally ranked golf teams from across the nation.

The women faced a field full of tough competitors, such as Western Kentucky University, which ended up winning the tournament by 24 strokes over second place Jacksonville. The Golden Grizzlies finished at 64 strokes over par, tied with Arkansas State for seventh place out of 14 at the annual Spring Break Shootout in Florida.

“I think we did really well,” senior Fiona Schmidt said. “We just have to try to minimize our mistakes. I think we all have to work on the mental side, focusing on every shot, and play in the moment.”

Individually, Schmidt finished in 16th place with a 13 over par (229), and freshman Alexis Jones finished in 12th place, shooting a total 12 over par (228). Jones was named the Horizon League Golfer of the Week for her performance, as she shot a 76 in each of the three rounds at the Spring Break Shootout.

“It’s nice to compare yourself to better teams – teams ranked lower than you,” Schmidt said. “It’s great to play with good competition. It shows us that we’re right there.”

The team’s performance against top-ranked teams gave leaders like Schmidt more optimism than was already present for the teams prospects in the Horizon League Championship.

“I feel we will win the Horizon League Championship,” Schmidt said. “Both the men’s and women’s scores are the lowest in the Horizon League. I feel like this year our team really wants it, and we can do it.”

The men traveled to South Carolina to play in the Colleton River Collegiate tournament, facing off against teams like Penn State University and Michigan State University. The men placed 10th out of 12 in the tournament, with senior Jake Kneen and freshman Sean Niles posting top 25 performances.

Kneen finished with an 11 over par total (227) to finish in 20th place, and Niles was not far behind, shooting a 12 over par total (228) to finish tied for 23rd.

“I think for me that final round was something that I needed,” Niles said. “I have been struggling so far adjusting to college, so getting a solid nine under my belt was really nice. I shot six under on the front nine, shooting seven birdies and a bogey.”

Finishing 10th out of 12, the team was able to still find positives in a bottom half finish, due to the strength of their opponents. The postponing of the second round due to darkness on the second day was an obstacle the team could not overcome.

“It was a good field,” Niles said. “Really it was the conditions, we believe we can hang with anyone in that tournament, they just played the conditions better than us. They hit better golf shots.”

The men face a quick turnaround as they begin competition again on March 23 in Florida, at the Florida Atlantic Invitational in Boca Raton.  

The women have a bit longer of a layoff, competing again starting on March 30, as they travel to Kentucky to play in the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Colonel Classic.