Golf finishes out spring season with fifth place finish

Grayson Lindau, Sports Writer

After a long and rather uneventful spring season due to the notorious Wisconsin weather, the UW Oshkosh women’s golf team played its final match of the season at the Augustana Viking Invitational in Rock Island, Illinois.

The team shot a total of 332 strokes in the first round and improved to 317 strokes in the second round to tie for fourth place out of 14 teams, a strong showing for the Titans.

Junior Kayla Priebe led the charge for the Titans, shooting a 79 in both rounds, which was enough to tie for 11th place out of a field of 78 players. Eight strokes behind Priebe were sophomores Hannah Braun and Hanna Rebholz who each tied for 24th place.

The Titans’ lone senior, Micayla Richards, was lights out in her final round of golf as a Titan, tying her all- time low score of a 75 in the second round, which included her first-ever eagle as a Titan, a three on a lengthy par-5. Richards placed 27th overall and ended her collegiate golf career with a tremendous performance.

The team had to rely on its hours of indoor golf simulator practice to hone their skills leading up to the Viking Invitational. Although the simulator is an excellent training tool, it does not accurately compare to the more critical aspects of playing outdoors such as judging the changing winds and the slope of the greens.

However, head coach Liza Ruetten said she was incredibly pleased with how the team played despite not having enough outdoor practices.

“I was most impressed with how each of the six players were striking the ball, despite our lack of outdoor range or course prep,” Ruetten said. “It was gratifying to see that our simulator usage this past spring did provide some benefit. Overall, the greens at Highland Springs Golf Course proved to be very challenging for all the Titans. Short game practice this spring has been the one area we could not practice indoors.”

Richards said she was also happy with her teammates’ performance following the various setbacks throughout the season.

“Overall, I was extremely proud of how our team performed this weekend,” Richards said. “The weather was a game changer for most, but we were able to produce lower scores compared to previous meets we’ve had this season. There are always going to be challenges during a round, but the team showed strength by bouncing back after bad shots or tough holes, and seeing this resilience made the match very enjoyable.”

With this match having been her final collegiate competition, Richards said she was filled with emotions while trying to put on her best showing at the Invitational. After struggling in the first round of the tournament, Richards was determined to finish her career with a memorable experience.

“The first day I was very emotional as it occurred to me that this was the last time I would be playing with such a great group of girls and with a team that has been my second family the last four years,” Richards said. “I struggled on Saturday and I think I let my emotions get in the way of my golf game. On Sunday, I really wanted one final round to remember and I wanted to end my college career on a high note.”

Richards mentioned throughout her career as a Titan, she was able to always rely on her coach to help get her through any hard times, and thankfully her final collegiate event ended with her coach at her side.

“On my last two holes, I walked with [Ruetten] and reflected on how many memories I’ve had over the last four years,” Richards said. “It is unbelievable how much our coach has changed my life by being so supportive and the best role model for our team. As our walk ended, I finished my last hole and tied my career low of 75. It was the best way to end my college career, and I will always remember my time here as a Titan.”

Looking ahead

Junior Ireland Dunne said she is looking forward to the arrival of incoming freshmen to add to and strengthen the team.

“Next season is going to be big,” Dunne said. “Not just for me individually, but for our team. We have a few freshmen coming in that have the potential to be really good players, and I think they’ll bring with them a sense of excitement and drive to the team.”

As the spring season comes to a close, the Titans now set their sights on the future. With a new group of freshman joining the team next fall, the team is poised and ready to improve its play and hopefully make strides towards a conference championship next season.