Coming off back-to-back individual medalist honors, senior Taylor Ledwein and Bradley’s women’s golf team hoped to keep the good times rolling and bring a championship back to Peoria for the first time since 2006.
“Obviously coming off of two really good weeks, we were feeling pretty good,” head coach Halley Morell said. “We had a really good practice before and then later a good practice round going into the championship.”
The team had good reason to be hopeful, with two consecutive fourth-place finishes and Ledwein’s recent accomplishments had the Braves ready to put on one last exciting performance.
The tournament started Monday in St. Charles, Missouri, at the par-71 Bogey Hills Country Club. The Braves got out to a fast start, turning in a score of 309 and sitting in fourth place, nine shots out of first after the first round. Ledwein once again led both the Braves and the field, scoring an even-par 71 through the first 18.
Unfortunately for the Braves, the continued success hit a roadblock in the second round when the Braves shot 319, dropping to sixth overall. Ledwein struggled to keep up, scoring 10-over par, third amongst her teammates. Sophomores Megan Welch and Elyse Emerzian picked up the slack, shooting 5-over-76 and 7-over-78 respectively.
“We just had a couple of bad shots which led to some bigger numbers [in the second round],” Morell said. “It wasn’t really one thing, it’s just a couple of shots and bounces didn’t go our way.”
Play resumed on a wet and snowy Tuesday. With most of the field shooting over 80, the Braves struggled to climb the rankings, and maintained their placement in sixth, tying with Southern Illinois. Ledwein led the Braves, shooting an 11-over-par and finishing tied for eighth overall. Right behind were both Welch, and freshman Mara Flaherty, who each added a 14-over-par performance.
“The final round we played in a blizzard,” Morell said. “When you’re in weather like that, it’s all about having a good attitude and just knowing your scores are going to be a lot higher.”
After play concluded Tuesday, Ledwein was named MVC Women’s Golfer of the Year, a prestigious honor that a Bradley golfer has won four other times, with the last time being three-time winner Danielle Lemek in 2016. The senior finishes her Bradley career with 20 Top-10 finishes and three individual medalist honors.
“[The award] was well-deserved and well-earned in my opinion,” Morell said. “Taylor’s going to go down as one of the best players in the history of our program.”
With the curtains closing on this shortened season, the focus now becomes next year.
The Braves expect to return all on the current roster minus Ledwein. Morell is excited for a new season and a “new feel” for the team. She’ll have one of her youngest teams to work with as the Braves will hope to continue on the recent successes of this past season.
“We had one bad round; it happens in golf,”Morell said. “It’s not going to diminish what we’ve done all season. I’m excited to see the progress [next year].”