With its football team on the road and its pugilistic mascot along with it, the University of Notre Dame instead played host to 17 women’s golf teams from across the nation on Saturday and Sunday at the Warren Golf Course for the Notre Dame Invitational.
In the first tournament of the year for the Bulldogs and after only one weekend of practice, the team managed a ninth place showing among a tough field on a difficult course. Cindy Shin ’07 paced the Eli effort with an eighth place finish in the individual standings.
Co-designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, the Warren Golf Course has become what Golf Digest calls “one of the best in College Golf.” Compared to starting at a less competitive Ivy League course such as Dartmouth’s or Princeton’s as the Bulldogs have in recent years, veteran Lauren Ressler ’06 acknowledged that the atmosphere was very different in Indiana.
“[The tournament] threw you right into the fire,” she said.
In a somewhat unusual format, each golfer played two rounds on Saturday for a 36-hole total, and one round on Sunday. Especially for players coming off a summer of sporadic practice, team captain January Romero ’06 expected a rocky start.
“We were a little rushed — a lot of us hadn’t been playing,” she said. “It was 36-18, but we did it okay. We learned what we need to work on.”
After Saturday’s first round, however, the team was only seven shots out of first, posting a combined four-player score of 318, compared to Notre Dame’s 311. The Bulldogs showed their fatigue in the afternoon round, however, posting a 325.
On its home course, Notre Dame dominated the first day, and consequently the tournament, as the Fighting Irish won wire-to-wire, nine strokes better than the nearest competitor, the University of Toledo, and 16 strokes better than the third place team, Georgetown.
It was only on Sunday that the Bulldogs played up to their talent. Led by Shin, the defending Ivy League champion, the team posted a 311, besting even the home-team Irish. Shin shot a sparkling even-par 72 to tie for the tournament’s low round from any player, on her way to tying for eighth overall individually.
Ellen Brophy ’08 (tied for 23rd) and Romero (tied for 40th) shot 78 and 77, respectively, in the final round to add to the comeback. Interim head coach Chawwadee Rompothong said she was very proud of her team’s effort.
“[The team] rallied very well the last day, getting back into competition,” Rompothong said.
Although a ninth place showing was slightly disappointing, Ressler felt that the tournament on the whole was a very positive experience. In fact, the team only finished nine strokes out of third place.
“[Now] we know where we’re going,” she said. “[It feels] like going to Dartmouth and winning.”
After finishing second to Princeton last year in both the Princeton Invitational and Ivy Championship, as well as in a Golf Digest poll for best academic-first golf colleges, the team is looking forward to a tiger hunt Sept. 23-25 at the Princeton Invitational.
Rompothong was also very excited about the prospect of playing at Princeton. With two weeks to prepare for the tournament, Rompothong would love to get a win on Princeton’s home turf.
“I believe that we are the best team in the Ivy League,” Rompothong said.
If the second day of the Elis’ trial by fire is more indicative than the first, the team appears poised to prove Rompothong correct.