The women’s golf team started in the right direction this week with a fourth place finish in the Payne Stewart Memorial held at River Cut Golf Course in Springfield, Mo.
“I didn’t know what to expect going in, but for the first tournament of the year, I’m more than happy with what I saw,” coach Bo Ryan said.
Led by senior Bari Erais, the Braves totaled a team score of 616 for the event, finishing seven shots behind tournament winner Oral Roberts.
Erais finished tied for the lowest individual score of the tournament with a 36-hole total of 146, but lost the medalist honors after McNeese State’s Maggie Welch made par on the two’s first playoff hole to end the match.
With Tuesday’s second-place finish, which included a second-round score of 71 – the best single-round score of the tournament – Erais added to her school record for top-10 finishes, bringing the total to 17.
“She is, in my mind, the best player in the conference,” Ryan said. “People may give you arguments from Illinois State and arguments from Drake, but she is one of those players that is the heart and soul of your team. She brings everyone else up.”
Joining Erais in the top 10 was freshman Kelly Amundrud, whose 153 (76-77) was good enough to secure eighth place.
Next in line for the Braves were sophomores Breanne Neufeld and Caitlin Deeken who locked up ties for 12th and 29th place for Bradley by firing respective scores of 156 and 161.
Senior Lauren Downing had the final counted team score, tying for 60th place with a total of 176.
Also playing Tuesday was freshman Keegan Ryan who played as an individual in the tournament but gained experience nonetheless after carding her first round in the seventies with a 76 in Tuesday’s final round.
Keegan finished the tournament in a tie for 33rd with a total of 162.
Ryan said some mistakes could have cost the team.
“We had some blunders on the last day that could have cost us the tournament,” he said. “Balls out of bounds and double bogeys from the middle of the fairway – but being the first tournament of the year, those are things we hope to improve on.”
The Braves will look to build on this week’s strong start Sept. 29 and 30 at the Johnnie Imes Invitational in Columbia, Mo.
“It’s not even about winning or losing right now,” Ryan said. “We have a young team and we are just looking to become a competitive collegiate golf team.”