As a new season begins, a new star emerges from the women’s golf team.
Callie Kemmer ’12 won the individual competition at the Nittany Lion Invitational in State College, Pa. this weekend, finishing four-over after three rounds to best Columbia’s Sara Ovadia by four strokes. The Bulldogs as a team finished seventh out of 14 teams, behind Ivy League rivals Princeton and Columbia, who landed in fifth and sixth places respectively.
The tournament was marked by heavy rains during the practice round on Friday, which influenced playing conditions for the rest of the tournament.
“With rain, there is less wind, but also less roll on the fairways when driving the ball,” captain Natasha Spackey ’09 said. “The course played longer than usual as a result of the conditions.”
The soggy course did not faze Kemmer, though, playing in her first tournament for the Elis. She pointed to a strong short game throughout the weekend as the key to her victory.
“I had a lot of up and downs that I converted to save pars,” Kemmer said.
Where the other Bulldogs said putting was a weakness for the team, Kemmer thought it was her personal strength, which she displayed in shooting two rounds of 73 and a final round of 74 on the par-72 Penn State Blue Course.
“Putting is usually the best part of my game being pretty consistent,” she said. “The greens were true, so not too hard to figure out.”
The win marks a fast rise for Kemmer, who hails from Wichita, Kan., and attended a high school with a graduating class of just 60 students. Though she was a four-time first team all-state performer and two time Class 4-1A State Champion, Kemmer said she was uncertain how her high school success would translate to collegiate golf.
“High school golf in Kansas is not very competitive, so I didn’t expect to do this well in a Division I golf tournament,” she said.
Arriving on campus just two weekends ago, Kemmer was not guaranteed a spot in this weekend’s tournament. Instead, she had to qualify for the traveling team by playing 45 solid holes of golf the weekend prior to this event. That chance turned into an individual championship for Kemmer.
While Kemmer said she thinks her older teammates were fairly surprised by her victory, Erica Im ’09 expressed confidence in the freshman.
“We all knew she was a great player, but she definitely surpassed expectations,” Im said. “She is a competitive person by nature.”
As for the other Bulldogs, Harriet Owers-Bradley ’11 had the shot of the tournament for the team, nailing an eagle from the fairway on the par-4 10th hole. Using a 6 iron from 150 yards out, the ball landed in front of the green before running up to the hole and dropping in.
Looking ahead, the Elis saw a lot of positives to take away from this weekend.
“We didn’t finish as high as we had hoped, but we grew mentally as a team,” Spackey said. “Everyone shot under 80 in the final round, which is important since everyone needs to score well at the same time in team golf.”
The Bulldogs’ next tournament comes at home at the Yale Golf Course on Sept. 27 and 28. With the two weeks of practice coming up, the Elis will look to continue to improve.
“We are definitely off to a better start [this season], and have a lot of potential,” Im said. “We need to work on our short game for the next two weeks before the Yale Invitational.”