Ashley Haggard takes a shot Oct. 23, 2012, during the Blue Raider Invitational at Old Fort Golf Club in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Athletics)
The MTSU women’s golf team used the home course advantage to pick up its best finish of the season Tuesday at the Blue Raider Invitational, which took place at Old Fort Golf Club in Murfreesboro.
The tournament was made up of a combination of three rounds which were played over two days in picture perfect conditions. 18 schools, including the Blue Raiders, took part in the event.
“I think everybody did really well, and played consistent,” freshman Avery George said after Tuesday’s third round. “We finished strong and that is all you can ask for.”
For the second consecutive year, MTSU won its own tournament over schools from all over the southeast and Midwest, including several Sun Belt Conference rivals. The Blue Raiders won the event by 16 strokes, 889 to 905 over runner up Morehead State.
This was the only tournament all season, in which the Blue Raiders played on its home course. The team as a whole enjoyed getting a chance to compete on a familiar one which they are used to. It was also special because the Blue Raider players had some supporters in attendance, including family and friends and high ranking school officials. One of those was MTSU President Sidney McPhee.
“The home course advantage was definitely something we like out here,” Senior Olivia Love said. “It definitely made us feel special. When you feel special, you play well, and we did that.”
In the first and second round, which was held on Monday, the Blue Raiders took control early on the par 72, 6,177 yard course by shooting a team best 299 during the opening round in the morning. It followed it up with a 291 in the next round later that afternoon. The performance help put MTSU ahead of Morehead State by seven strokes heading into today’s round of 18.
The Blue Raiders ended the tournament with a total three-round score of 889. Love led the way for MTSU during the third round with a 72, and she finished with a total of 222. However, the lowest total score for the Blue Raiders went to George with a 221 after shooting a 74 on Tuesday. Senior Ashley Haggard finished also with a 222, including a 77 in the final round.
Both the players and coaches agreed the weather during the two days of the tournament was as good as it gets. It was partly cloudy with temperatures in the 70s and the wind was a small factor during the three rounds. However, the course itself was very challenging for all of the golfers.
“The course is playing really tough right now,” MTSU head coach Chris Adams said. “It looks really easy off the tees, but when you get off the fairways, it really tricky. Overall, the course is playing pretty difficult.”
All during the fall season, MTSU had been led by Haggard.
Haggard had come into the event as one of the best players in the SBC this season. This tournament was no different as after the first day of action, she shot a total score of 145, including a 69 during the afternoon round. She was one of a few players to shot below 70 during the tournament.
“I have worked really hard this summer,” Haggard said. “I changed a few clubs trying to see what fit me best. I have really focused on my mental game, trying to get myself calmed down and focus throughout the whole round and it has really made a difference.”
In women’s college golf, each team has a total of five players representing its school. Out of the five, the top four are added up together for the final team score. The other two Blue Raider golfers which made up the five during the tournament, included Natalie Chrisopulos and Emily Miller.
The 16 other teams, which took part in the tournament included: Austin Peay, Belmont, Jacksonville State, Lamar, Missouri-Kansas City, Murray State, Northern Iowa, Oral Roberts, South Alabama (SBC), Southern Illinois, Southern Miss, Tennessee Tech, Arkansas-Little Rock (SBC), Texas-El Paso, Troy (SBC) and Western Kentucky (SBC).
The Blue Raider team now takes the winter off before resuming its season in February playing in a tournament in Miami.