The Braves couldn’t find their putting strokes in the final day of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, as they finished with a team score of 953 to take home eighth place.
After shooting 308 and 318 in the first two rounds of the tournament, Bradley turned in a final round 327 to finish well behind first place Illinois State (921).
“It was disappointing for us, since we haven’t finished lower than fourth since 1999,” coach Bo Ryan said. “The kids were scoring, we just had a week where we didn’t make any putts and I think that was the bottom line. Tee to green, I thought we played great golf, we just couldn’t get it in the hole.”
Sophomore Breanne Neufeld was the top finisher for Bradley, as she took home a share of 16th place with a score of 236 (74-78-84).
Senior Bari Erais, who Ryan called the “heart and soul of the team for the past four years,” closed out her career at Bradley with a final total of 238 (77-80-81) and finished in a tie for 22nd place.
Erais will graduate from Bradley as the Braves’ all-time leader in rounds played (108), stroke average (77.7), top-10 finishes (21) and rounds in the 70s (73).
“Bari finished that last day with six 3-putts, which is obviously something she doesn’t usually do,” Ryan said. “But that’s just the way golf goes. Sometimes the cup looks as big as a basketball rim and other times it looks like the head of a pin.”
Freshman Kelly Amundrud was the next highest finisher for the Braves, as she wound up just one shot behind Erais to tie for 24th place.
Sophomore Caitlin Deeken carded a first round 89, but settled down in the final two rounds of the tournament, firing back-to-back 79s to finish in a tie for 41st place. Deeken was also one of only nine players to shoot in the 70s in the final round of the tournament.
Freshman Erin Gorman was the final counter for Bradley, coming in at 249.
“We were right where we wanted to be after the first and second days,” Ryan said. “We just didn’t have anybody go low in that final round when we really needed it. But, you need a few breaks and you need to make putts to win a conference championship and we just didn’t get either.”
The Braves will only lose Erais and senior Laura Dowling to graduation, but will return in the 2009-10 season with five of the top six performers from this year’s team, including the Amundrud, who finished the season as the Braves’ leader in stroke average (77.9).