Golf

Contributed Photo, GoGriz.com

The University of Montana women’s golf team put togetehr a pair of strong showings this weekend at the Big Sky Conference Championship, but 20-mile-per-hour winds derailed their performances.

Montana closed its season April 21 with a 10th place finish out of 11 teams.

The Griz held their own for two of the three rounds at Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City, Nevada, but an ugly Saturday showing dropped the Griz to 10th. Montana shot 307 on Friday, 325 on Saturday and 308 to end the tournament on Sunday.

In tournament play, each team brings five players to compete, but the worst individual round each day is not included in the team score. Saturday was the first day all year that no Griz broke 80 strokes. The score matched the team’s worst score of the season. They fell to 10th place in the championship.

Montana finished Friday in ninth place, two shots from eighth and eight back from seventh. Freshman Kylie Esh led the way with 74 in the opening round. Esh tied for the most birdies of the day with five and finished the weekend with nine, the eighth-most in the tournament. Esh shot 74-80-73 to place 24th, the best of any Griz.

Montana wasn’t the only team that struggled with Saturday’s wind; each of the 11 teams in the tournament posted their highest team score of the weekend.

Montana rebounded Sunday with 308, led again by Esh. But it wasn’t enough to gain ground on ninth-place Weber State.

The Grizzlies’ championship performance was a step down from 2018, when Montana finished seventh. But the Grizzlies only brought back three of the seven players on their roster for 2019, and the rest were replaced by freshmen.

Four of the seven women on the roster this season were freshmen and one was a sophomore.

Montana will only graduate one senior this year, Baylee Barkley. Barkley had the lowest average score on the team this season with a 76.6. She also had the lowest round of the season with a four-under-par 68 at the Red Rock Invitational in Cornville, Arizona. Barkley shot 79-83-76 this weekend to place 40th.

Sophomore Faith D’Ortenzio was third on the team with an 83-84-79 showing. Junior Teigan Avery was fourth, carding 76-89-78. Freshman Allison Sobol finished fifth at 81-82-81.

Sacramento State won the tournament with a three-over-par 867. Defending-champion University of Idaho came in second, 20 strokes back. Northern Colorado placed third at 27-over-par. Northern Colorado’s Beah Cruz won the individual title at one-under, beating Sacramento State’s Corinne Viden in a playoff.

Sacramento State will represent the Big Sky Conference in the NCAA Regionals, which will be hosted by Auburn, Washington, Oklahoma and Michigan State May 6-8, with the top six teams at each advancing to the National Championships. Sacramento State will learn where they play Wednesday evening.