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Women’s golf hopes to continue momentum

Brooke+Cusumano%2C+a+then-junior+from+St.+Louis+studying+accounting%2C+practices+her+putting+skills+Feb.+1%2C+2016%2C+while+playing+nine+holes+at+the+Hickory+Ridge+Golf+Course+in+Carbondale.+%28DailyEgyptian.com+file+photo%29
Brooke Cusumano, a then-junior from St. Louis studying accounting, practices her putting skills Feb. 1, 2016, while playing nine holes at the Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Brooke Cusumano, a then-junior from St. Louis studying accounting, practices her putting skills Feb. 1, 2016, while playing nine holes at the Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

Brooke Cusumano, a then-junior from St. Louis studying accounting, practices her putting skills Feb. 1, 2016, while playing nine holes at the Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale. (DailyEgyptian.com file photo)

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

After a successful fall campaign, SIU women’s golf is gearing up for the transition to spring season. 

The Salukis finished in the top 10 in every match during the fall and won the University of Illinois-Chicago Invitational on Sept. 19 and Loyola Invitational on Sept. 22. All the winning last season has the team thinking big for when the weather warms. 

“We need to focus a lot on our putting and chipping and being more confident and believing that we can win,” said Saluki coach Alexis Mihelich. “We have the ability to win the Missouri Valley Conference title, and I’ve had teams come within shots of doing so. I believe that this team could be the one to seal the deal.”

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Since Mihelich was hired in 2011, the Salukis best finish was third. SIU hasn’t won a conference title since 2007.

Mihelich said there are several players to watch for including freshman Sun Jung, who the coach said could contend for MVC Newcomer of the Year.

Jung finished in the top 10 in every fall match she played, including a season-best third place tie at the Loyola Invitational.

“She’s one of the most improved from October to now,” Mihelich said. “Her striking is a lot better and she fixed a couple of things that would throw her trajectory off, so she’s a lot more consistent.”

Mihelich said she would like to see the same strong, consistent play from her top five, which includes junior Brooke Cusumano and senior Mattie Linder. 

Cusumano notched a win in the Murray State Invitational on Sept. 15. To get more victories, she said she must improve her mental and short games.

“It’s really hard to be positive when you hit the ball into the lake, but sometimes its just not your day,” Cusumano said. “Alice [Ho] and I read devotionals on the bus that have scripture, plus a thought of the day that I’ll write it down and put it in my pocket so it’s always there.”

Mihelich said Lindner, who won the Saluki Invitational last season, could also have a nice year. 

Lindner said although being a senior is bittersweet, she will enjoy what she hopes is her best semester before she graduates. She is 10th all-time in lowest career score with a 79.99 average in 74 rounds and had four top-five finishes last season.

“Right now, I’m just living in the moment and enjoying what I have,” she said. “My goal is to go out and play the best golf I can before it’s all over and just enjoy the time I have left.” 

Lindner said she plans to work within golf after graduation.

The Saluki women begin their season Feb. 12 in Fort Meyers, Fla., at the Eagle Invitational.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or 618-534-3303

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