A record-breaking performance and senior leadership helped the Bradley women’s golf team get off to a strong start and fifth-place finish in their first tournament of the year at the Redbird Invitational.
True freshman Maria Perakis made a great introduction as she finished tied for ninth, while senior teammate Megan Welch tied with Perakis with solid play for a 54-hole total of 221.
Perakis fired a one-under 71 in her first collegiate round. One of the Braves’ freshest faces recorded four birdies on the back nine, including three in a row, and finished the side with a score of 32.
“I was pretty surprised to be honest with how I played,” Perakis said. “I was nervous, but I just had to remind myself that I have played in tournaments like these before.”
The hot start from Perakis led to the Bradley newcomer breaking the program record for lowest score for a freshman in their debut. The record was previously held by now-junior Mara Flaherty.
“She really impressed this weekend,” head coach Halley Morell said of Perakis’ debut. “She is so eager to learn and get better … how she held her own under pressure was really impressive.”
Alongside Perakis was Welch, who tied with the freshman for ninth at five-over-par as well. Welch fired consecutive rounds of two-over-par, 74 through 36 holes. On the second day of competition, Welch scored her tournament-best round with a 73 in the final round of the tournament.
Morell was impressed with the way Welch played.
“Megan has been a staple in my lineup for the last two years and I expect her good play to stay,” Morell said. “She had a great summer, and hopefully she can guide these younger players and this team to great play for the rest of the season.”
Welch had quite the final round. After double-bogeying the par-4 eighth hole, Welch made an eagle on hole nine. From 136 yards out, Welch holed out from the fairway, a shot that turned around her day.
“I knew I really needed to be there for my teammates, and I was really in the zone on that shot,” Welch said. “It provided an in-between approach shot, which [is] my favorite. The shot called for a draw, which is my natural shot shape, and I stepped up to hit it.”
The Braves travel to Springfield, Missouri this weekend for the Payne Stewart Memorial. The tournament tees off on Sept. 13.