Rainy, wet and muddy.
These are just a few words to describe the conditions that Bradley women’s golf team had to swing through on the opening day of the Georgia State Invitational this Monday. The Braves got off to a rough start, but played much better down the stretch, leading to a 10th-place finish.
“The conditions were the hardest in the opening rounds,” Braves’ head coach Halley Morell said. “We got a lot of rain overnight and it was still raining that morning. The biggest thing we struggled with was adjusting to the speed of the green. Playing in that wet, muddy conditions took us a while to adjust.”
Although the Braves started the tournament off slowly, the entire team had a historic closing round. The team shot 287, the second-lowest single-round score total in Bradley women’s history.
“It’s a big confidence builder,” Morell said. “We’ve been working hard on our mental game and our process. I’ve been telling them all year about the talent level on this team. To finally put it together and shoot that round under par, I think it lets them believe in the possibility of how good this team can be.”
Bradley was led by their seniors Mara Flaherty and Megan Welch, along with strong performances from underclassmen Allison Pacocha and Maria Perakis.
Headlining the tournament for Bradley was Pacocha. The freshman tied for 32nd overall, shooting a 10-over-par 226. She followed an opening-round score of six-over-par 78 with stellar scores of four-over-par 76 and an even par 72 in rounds two and three respectively. Pacocha’s teammates and coaches have been impressed with her work ethic and preparation heading into tournaments.
Welch sang her praises this week when asked about the behind-the-scenes work that her teammate puts in.
“Allison [Pacocha] is the kind of person that can’t do something without doing it 100 percent,” Welch said. “She has one of the best work ethics I’ve seen in someone so young. Being a college athlete, you kind of learn that work ethic, but a lot of times you don’t come in as a freshman with it. That’s what sets her apart.”
Welch tied with Pacocha for 32nd overall, also shooting a 10-over-par 226. The senior was steady in rounds one and two, shooting six-over-par for a score of 78 in both rounds. In round three, Welch had the best round of her entire career. Carding a two-under 70, the veteran shot under par for the first time in her Bradley career, something she’s been striving to do since she started.
“It’s kinda funny because, in terms of hitting the ball, that was the worst I’ve hit all spring,” Welch said. “I was able to be confident enough in my short game, wedge play, and putting. When I did hit a shot that was a little errant, I didn’t get too down on myself. I knew I could finish out the hole and make par no matter what. Shooting under par was one of my goals when coming back for my fifth year.”
Alongside Welch was her teammate and best friend senior Mara Flaherty, who struggled in the opening rounds, shooting 85 and 75 respectively. However, she went on to have the best round of her career as well, shooting under a two-under-par 70. Flaherty’s late heroics helped her finish 46th overall.
“Mara and I are roommates, we’ve been roommates for the last two years,” Welch said. “She’s one of my best friends. It’s just cool to have that on the same day. Immediately when I putted out on that 18th hole, I went up and gave her a big hug.”
Sophomore Maria Perakis was third amongst Braves competitors, finishing with a three-round score of 229, placing 40th overall. Junior Grace Amando rounded out the scoring for Bradley, placing 63rd with a three-round score of 233.
The team looks to build on the momentum of that historic third round on April 3 at the Colonel Classic in Kentucky.