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Friday, February 26, 2016

Ree earns first collegiate victory for powerful USC

   When Radnor High senior Brynn Walker and Council Rock North senior Madelein Herr saw their bid for the title in the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship halted in the semifinals on the Pacific Dunes Course at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore. last spring, they fell to a couple of pretty tough customers.
   Walker and Herr fell, 3 and 2, in the semifinals to Hannah O’Sullivan of Chandler, Ariz. And Robynn Ree of Redondo Beach, Calif. O’Sullivan and Ree went on to fall to Rinko Mitsunaga and Mika Liu in the final.
   All O’Sullivan did was go on to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur title in August at the Portland Golf Club. And Ree’s name popped up this week as the USC freshman captured her first collegiate individual title to lead the Trojans, ranked No. 1 by Golfweek, to the team crown in the Golf Rush at Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach, Calif.
   Ree had rounds of 70, 71 and 71 over the Old Ranch Country Club layout for a 4-under 212 total to lead a sweep of the top three positions for the powerful Trojans. USC lost to Pac-12 rival Stanford, 3-2, in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, contested at match play for the first time, last spring, but the Trojans may be tough to deny this season. The Gold  Rush was their third team title of the season and first of the spring campaign.
   Amy Lee (74-70-69), a sophomore from Brea, Calif., was a shot back of Ree in second at 3-under 213 and Tiffany Chan (75-68-71), a junior from Hong Kong, was third at 2-under 212. The Trojans had rounds of 286, 285 and 292 for a 1-under 863 total that was 18 shots better than runnerup Fresno St. and 27 shots clear of host Long Beach St. in third.
   By the way, O’Sullivan, who, as far as I can tell, should be teeing it up at Rolling Green Golf Club in 155 days to begin defense of her U.S. Women’s Amateur title, will be rejoining her Four-Ball partner Ree at Southern Cal in the fall. The rich get richer.

   In a post a few weeks ago, I updated you on the progress of some of the members of the winning United States team from that 2009 Walker Cup Match held at Merion Golf Club’s historic East Course.
   Well, don’t look now, but at the top of the leaderboards at the halfway point of two tournaments a half a world apart are none other than arguably the two most talented players from that U.S. team, Rickie Fowler and Peter Uihlein.
   Fowler fired a 4-under 66 Friday on the notoriously difficult PGA National layout to take a one-shot lead over Jimmy Walker at 8-under 132 at the halfway point of the Honda Classic.
   Uihlein does most of his work on the European Tour these days. He added a 4-under 68 Friday to his opening-round 65 to share the 36-hole lead with Brett Rumford at 11-under 133 in the Perth International in Australia.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Campbell, DiLisio lead Notre Dame to sixth at Westbrook Spring Invitational

   It could have been better, but it’s hard for the Notre Dame women’s golf team, ranked No. 23 by GolfWeek, to complain about a total that was the fifth-best 54-hole score in school history, even if it did yield just a sixth-place finish Monday as the Fighting Irish teed off the spring portion of their schedule at the Westbrook Spring Invitational hosted by Wisconsin in Peoria, Ariz.
   With Talia Campbell, the senior captain from Dallas, and Isabella DiLisio, the freshman who won the 2013 PIAA Class AAA title as a junior at Mount St. Joseph, leading the way, Notre Dame posted a final-round 289 over the 6,269-yard, par-72 Vistas Course at Westbrook Village Country Club. That gave them a 54-hole total of 1-over 865.
   But the Irish were just a shot behind fifth-place finisher SMU, ranked No. 41 by GolfWeek, two shots behind No. 26 UNLV in fourth and just four back of Kansas State in third. SMU had the day’s best round, a 6-under 282, to move into fifth place at even-par 264. UNLV posted a 290 for a 1-under 863 total and Kansas State matched par at 288 for a 3-under 861 total.
   Oregon, ranked 30th, took a six-shot lead into Monday’s final round and fired a solid 1-under 287 for a 10-under 854 total and a five-shot victory over 41st-ranked Ohio St., which closed with a 4-under 284 for a 5-under 859 total.
   The Ducks were paced by three players who finished in the top 10, including two players who finished in a large group that was tied for third at 4-under 212. Cathleen Santoso, a junior from Australia,  fired a final-round 2-under 70 to get to 4-under and Caroline Inglis, a senior from Eugene, Ore. who was the 36-hole leader at 5-under, posted a 1-over 73 to fall back to 4-under. Kathleen Scavo, a freshman from Benicia, Calif., carded a 1-under 71 to finish in a large group tied for ninth that included Notre Dame’s Campbell and DiLisio at 2-under 214.
   Campbell signed for a 1-over 73 and DiLisio posted a solid 1-under 71 to earn Notre Dame co-medalist honors. The 2-under 214 total matched DiLisio’s career best set last fall at Nebraska’s Chip-N Club Invitational. Emma Albrecht, a freshman from Ormond Beach, Fla. had a 1-over 73 to finish in a tie for 33rd at 219, Maddie Rose Hamilton, a freshman from Louisville, matched par with a 72 that included an eagle on her final hole of the day, the fifth at Westbrook, to finish in a tie for 48th at 222 and Kari Belville, a sophomore from Granger, Ind., struggled with an 83 to finish in a tie for 79th at 231. Jordan Ferreira, a junior from University Place, Wash., competed as an individual for the Fighting Irish and closed with an even-par 72 to finish in a tie for 58th at 224.
   Notre Dame broke 870 for the third time in its last four tournaments after bettering the 870 mark on a par-72 course just three times in the program’s 27-year history before the 2015-16 season. Campbell, the captain, is the only senior in the group that traveled to the Westbrook.
   Wisconsin’s Brooke Ferrell, a junior from Edgerton, Wis., and Emma Henrikson, a senior from Sweden, shared medalist honors as they matched the day’s best score, each firing a 3-under 69, to emerge from a tight pack and finish at 5-under 211.
   Five players finished in a tie for third at 4-under 212, including Oregon’s Santoso and Inglis, Kansas State’s Connie Jaffrey, a sophomore from Scotland, Indiana’s Erin Harper, a freshman from Dublin, Ohio, and SMU’s Jenny Haglund, a junior from Australia. Jaffrey matched par with a 72, Harper fired a 2-under 70 and Haglund also matched the day’s best score with her 3-under 69.
   Runnerup Ohio State was led by Jessica Porvasnik, a junior from Hinckley, Ohio, and  Jaclyn Lee, a freshman from Canada, both of whom finished in the tie for ninth along with Oregon’s Scavo at 2-under 214. Porvasnik had a final-round 73 while Lee was another player who matched the day’s best score with a 3-under 69.
   In addition to Jaffrey’s tie for third, Kansas State got a solid showing from Katherine Gravel-Coursol, a junior from Canada, who posted a 1-over 73 to finish alone in eighth place at 3-under 213.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

DiLisio has Notre Dame in the hunt at Westbrook Spring Invitational

   Last fall, the Notre Dame women’s golf team was historically good. The Irish had a scoring average that was nearly four shots better than the program’s previous best, achieved a year earlier.
   Those of us who followed the scholastic scene in Pennsylvania the last few years would attribute that kind of improvement, at least in part, to the arrival at the South Bend, Ind. campus of one Isabella DiLisio, who won the 2013 PIAA Class AAA title as a junior at Mount St. Joseph and won the 2014 Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur champion.
   DiLisio of Hatfield doesn’t cut an imposing figure on the golf course. OK, she’s small. But she’s a tough kid and some of that toughness seems to have worn off on the Irish, ranked No. 23 by GolfWeek heading into the spring campaign.
   DiLisio opened that spring campaign Sunday with a bogey-free 3-under 69 at the 6,269-yard, par-72 Vistas Course at Westbrook Village Country Club in Peoria, Ariz.
   The Irish kicked off the spring at the Westbrook Spring Invitational, hosted by Wisconsin, and when a long, long 36-hole day was over, they stood in fifth place at even-par 576 after rounds of 286 and 290.
   DiLisio struggled a little on her second round of the day, carding a 2-over 74 that left her among a large group of players tied for 11th at 1-under 143.
   But it had to be an encouraging start to the spring for DiLisio. She led a top-notch field after 36 holes at the Windfall Tradition, Notre Dame’s final event of the fall, before faltering with a final-round 84. Turns out she was fighting a back injury for much of the fall campaign and it caught up to her at the Landfall. Still, she had the Irish’s best scoring average of the fall, an outstanding 72.71.
   The Irish were led Sunday by Talia Campbell, a senior from Dallas. She had rounds of 72 and 69 and is tied for fifth at 3-under 141.
   Oregon’s Caroline Inglis, a senior from Eugene, Ore., grabbed the individual lead with rounds of 70 and 69 for a 5-under 139 total.
   She led the Ducks, ranked No. 30 by GolfWeek, to the top spot in the team standings. They had rounds of 285 and 292 to open up a six-shot lead at 9-under 567.
   No. 26 UNLV (285-288) and Kansas State (289-284) are tied for second at 3-under 573 and Big Ten power Ohio State, ranked 44th, is alone in fourth place with a 1-under 575 total after rounds of 287 and 288.
   UNLV was led by Kaylee Benton, a freshman from Buckeye, Ariz. She had a pair of 70s to finish a shot back of Inglis at 4-under 140. She was joined at that figure by two Kansas State players, Katherine Gravel-Coursol, a junior from Canada, and Connie Jaffrey a sophomore from Scotland. Gravel-Coursol had rounds of 72 and 68 while Jaffrey toured the Vistas Course in 71 and 69.
   Notre Dame’s Campbell was joined at 141 by Ohio State’s Jessica Porvasnik, a junior from Hinckley, Ohio. Porvasnik, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week after finishing in a tie for 13th at the Northrop Grumann Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, Calif. last weekend, had rounds of 71 and 70.
   DiLisio was one of three freshmen in the Notre Dame lineup Sunday. Emma Albrecht, a freshman from Ormond Beach, Fla., had rounds of 71 and 75 and is tied for 30th at 2-over 146, Kari Belville, a sophomore from Granger, Ind., had rounds of 76 and 72 and is tied for 43rd at 148 and Maddie Rose Hamilton, a freshman from Louisville, Ken., had rounds of 74 and 76 and is tied for 54th at 150.