Women’s golf plays its way to fifth place

Neal Hogden

The UW Oshkosh women’s golf team took its talents to Ironwood Golf Course in Normal, Ill. Saturday and Sunday for the Illinois Wesleyan Fall Classic. The Titans took fifth out of 17 teams in a competitive field.

After the team shot a team record of 304 on Saturday, the Titans shot 322 on Sunday to finish out the tournament. The team’s previous best mark of 306 was set back in 2003 at the same tournament.

Leading golfers for the Titans were junior Kayla Priebe in 6th place, sophomore Hannah Braun in 11th and freshman Keara Richards in 18th; all out of 100 total golfers.

Priebe recorded a personal best during the weekend, shooting a 75 on both days of the tournament for a total score of 150.

Priebe attributed the performance to both hard work at practice and some help from head coach Liza Ruetten.

“The focus for me this past week in practice was putting,” Priebe said. “I worked with coach on changing my putting form, and that helped me make a lot more putts this weekend. Having confidence in that one area also gave me more confidence in my game as a whole.”

Priebe earned the 2016 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year award after an excellent campaign, and she said there is added pressure that comes with the title.

“I think the only pressure that comes from [winning the award] is pressure I put on myself,” Priebe said. “Coach is always very encouraging and has never made me feel bad when I am not playing well.”

Priebe said she relies on strong team chemistry to keep focused when facing adversity.

“My team is great as well; everyone picks each other up emotionally after a bad round,” Priebe said. “The team has also really encouraged each other this year through performance on the course.”

Braun has been off to a hot start this season, recording three top-11 finishes. Braun said her success can be attributed to having a short memory after a bad shot or hole.

“I think a major strength to my game has been my attitude,” Braun said. “I used to focus on a bad shot that I had or a penalty that I had to take, but as I am playing throughout the tournaments this year, I focus on how I can improve my score.”

Rounding out UWO’s finishers were senior Micayla Richards in 31st, junior Ireland Dunne in 46th place, and sophomore Hanna Rebholz in 57th. Another strength the Titans put on display was their ability to make birdies, as Braun finished with seven, Priebe with six and Keara Richards with three during the two-day tournament.

At 5,900 yards this was the longest course the Titans have faced all year. Ruetten said this works to the advantage of certain members of the team.

“Keara [Richards] is long off the tee and a very strong and long iron player,” Ruetten said. “We are working together to improve her performance from 100 yards and in and also helping her to maintain a ‘one shot at a time’ mental attitude.”

Ruetten is very impressed with her class of incoming freshmen, but Keara Richards has stood out to her through the first three events of the year.

“[Keara] Richards has had a great start as a Titan,” Ruetten said. “She continues to show great promise and putted very well this past weekend. I am excited to have her on the team and Keara will be a strong presence on the varsity team for future events.”

Dunne and Rebholz also recorded personal bests during the weekend, scoring 165 and 167 respectively.

Braun said the team has focused on the importance of finishing the season strong, ahead of the conference tournament.

“Throughout these next two weeks before the tournament, I am really trying to focus on every aspect of my game,” Braun said. “I am making sure I am swinging everyday, and playing like I would in a tournament.”

The Titans will have a week off before traveling to Stevens Point for the Mad Dog Invitational on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. This will be the last chance for the team to better itself before the WIAC Championships on Oct. 6 through Oct. 8.