GREENWOOD, Ind. -- The Ball State women’s golf team set or tied school records for low 54-hole team score, low 18-hole team score and low 18-hole individual score Sunday at the Hoosier Fall Invitational.
The end result was a fourth-place finish among a strong 16-team field with a three-round total of 888 (+36). The only teams to beat the Cardinals -- tournament champion UC Davis (+16), Illinois (+32) and Louisville (+35) -- are all ranked 41st or better in the country.
Led by Sarah Westaway and Jenna Hague, who each tied for sixth place individually, Ball State finished ahead of five Big Ten teams and the other two Mid-American Conference teams in the field, Toledo and Eastern Michigan.
Betty Chen of UC Davis finished as the tournament’s individual medalist at 3-under par 210 on the par-71 layout at Hickory Stick Golf Club.
“It’s nice that we played so well against higher ranked teams and that we did well against teams from the MAC,” Westaway said. “It gives us lots of confidence moving forward and is a great way to end our fall season on a high note. We know if we play like this we can compete with really good teams.”
The Cardinals began the day with a strong finish to the tournament’s second round, suspended by darkness Saturday night, matching the 18-hole school-record score of 289. They then carried that momentum into the final round.
Hague had one hole to play on her second round when the day began and birdied it to post 5-under par 66, the lowest round ever for a Ball State women’s golfer by three strokes. She backed that up with a final-round 74 to finish at 3-over 217 for the tournament.
“Jenna was pretty flawless in her middle round,” Ball State coach Katherine Mowat said. “She’s had chances for really low scores like that, but in that second round she was able to combine her ball striking with really good putting to convert a lot of birdies. It was a fun round to watch.”
Westaway matched Hague by posting the best 54-hole tournament of her career in terms of both score and final placing. The senior finished off a second-round 72 to match her career-best score and then broke it just hours later by carding a third round of 1-under par 70. She has now finished tied for sixth and tied for 11th in her past two tournaments.
“Sarah played the golf that we have always believed was possible for her,” Mowat said. “She is a phenomenal ball striker, and this weekend she played aggressively with the mindset of making birdies. She eliminated big numbers, played relaxed and played to go low.”
The theme of the entire tournament for Ball State was production throughout the lineup. The Cardinals did not count a round higher than 77 all weekend, and Mary Welch and Karley Dobis joined Westaway in posting the lowest 54-hole scores of their Ball State careers.
Welch completed a second-round 75 on Sunday morning and then posted her lowest round as a Cardinal with a 73 to close out the tournament. She finished in a tie for 25th at 12-over 225 for her second consecutive top-25 result.
Dobis, the No. 5 golfer in the Ball State lineup, carded a career-low 76 in the second round and finished at 232 for the tournament. She provided a counting score for the Cardinals in two of the three rounds.
Meghan Perry rounded out the Cardinals with a score of 233. The senior improved her score every round, posting a 77 and a 76 in the final two rounds. Her 76 on Sunday was the Cardinals’ final counting score and was key in Ball State holding on to fourth place.
Ball State broke the previous 54-hole team scoring record of 896 and tied the previous 18-hole record of 289, both of which were set at the UNLV Spring Rebel Invitational in March 2010. That tournament was played on a par-72 course, so both of those scores (+32 for 54 holes and +1 for 18 holes) still stand as the best in school history in relation to par.
Individually, Hague’s tie for sixth place this weekend marked her seventh straight top-10 result dating back to last season. She already held the Ball State 54-hole scoring mark and a share of the previous 18-hole record entering the tournament.
The junior climbed into the top 100 of the national rankings last week, and she, along with fellow Ontario native Westaway, defeated three of the other four top-100 players in this weekend’s field.
Ball State has now completed its five-tournament fall schedule. The Cardinals are off from competition until mid-February when they will return to action at the Jim West Challenge in Texas.