Hanna Niner and four other members of the Trinity Womenâ€™s golf team concluded their first major tournament of the fall season with an eighth place finish in the Oâ€™Brien National Invitational in Granger, Indiana. The Tigersâ€™ shot a two-round total of 661. Niner, a junior, was the Tigersâ€™ overall individual leader, tying for 26th place after shooting 9-over-par 81 on Monday for a two-round total of 163.
The Oâ€™Brien Invitational took place on the par-72 Knollwood Country Club Course, which spans over 400 acres of property extending from northern Indiana into southern Michigan. St. Maryâ€™s College hosted the tournament, but this was the first year that the teams did not play on the Warren Golf Course on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
The Tigers faced some serious competition from several nationally ranked teams. Wittenberg University from Ohio won the team event with a 591, while George Fox University of Oregon was the tournament runner-up with a two-day score of 616. Wittenberg, the 2015 NCAA runner-up, won the Oâ€™Brien National Invitational for the second year in a row. The University of Texas-Tyler secured third place with a team total of 632 just after finishing fourth in the NCAA tournament last spring. Finally, the tournament host, St. Maryâ€™s College, came in at number 7 just ahead of the Tigers with a 653.
Prior to the tournament, Niner shared her thoughts about the teamâ€™s 2015 fall debut.
â€œPersonally, I think it is impressive that we were invited to play with these highly qualified teams from around the country on a very high profile course,â€ Niner said.
Niner, one of four upperclassmen on the roster, has big expectations for herself and her team in the upcoming season. After finishing up their 2014-2015 campaign as the SCAC runner-ups, the Tigersâ€™ head coach Carla Spenkoch expressed that she was thrilled about the girls having this â€œearly but challenging opportunity for personal growth and competitionâ€ in Indiana.
Coach Spenkoch and the Tigers welcomed four incoming first years to the team, one of whom accompanied the Tigers to the Oâ€™Brien Invitational this past weekend. Opening her collegiate career on a very challenging course, first year Emilee Strausburg tied for 47th place, after shooting an 85 on Monday, for a 174 total.
In the first round on Sunday, Senior Bridgette Lee carded a score of 8-over-par 80 to tie for 19th place. Lee finished the second round with a score of 84 to finish the second day in a tie for 30th place, at 164. On the heels of Lee was sophomore Shelby DeVore who tied for 35th place with a two-day total of 166.
â€œThis big tournament will be good test for the reminder of our season,â€ DeVore said. â€œThe four first-year girls who joined the team have all come in really strong, and they are very solid competition for the rest of us. I think that we have a good balance of experience and new talent on the roster this year.â€
Sophomore golfer Taylor Moser was the fifth member of the Tigers to travel to Indiana. Moser shot 85 on Monday for a two-day total of 168, tying for 40th. After only one month of regular practice, this major national tournament is just the starting block for the Tigers.
â€œWe can only learn from our performance in Indiana and improve our game personally and collectively as we ultimately prepare for our conference season in the spring,â€ Niner said.
The next fall tournament will take place from October 5 to 6 at the University of Houston-Victoria Invitational in Victoria, Texas. Then, both the womenâ€™s and menâ€™s teams will conclude their fall season on October 19 and 20 as the hosts of the Alamo City Classic at The Quarry Golf Club in San Antonio.