Saluki swings into consistency

After competing in all 12 tournaments her freshman season, one women’s golfer has stepped back into the starting five.

Sophomore Mattie Lindner has played well during the spring semester. In the fall, Lindner traveled with the team for three tournaments, and in six rounds only shot three under 80.  This semester, Lindner has played in five tournaments and only had four over 80 rounds in her last 12.

Lindner chalked up her recent successes to the time the Salukis spend practicing in their indoor training facility during the offseason.

“The winter season when we just get to work in the shed is definitely the most helpful for me,” Lindner said. “Being able to groove my swing, and being able to hit just a million golf balls is what I need to do.”

Lindner’s teammate, senior Cassie Rushing, said that one of the things that make Lindner a good player and teammate is her personality.

“I feel like she has confidence over everything,” Rushing said. “She always has good attitude out on the golf course, she’s always smiling. She’s just fun to play with.”

Twice this season, Lindner has found herself seizing an opportunity given to her by her coach, Alexis Mihelich.

On February 24, Lindner received a call from Mihelich around 7 a.m., Lindner’s teammate, junior Kris Grimes, over slept and missed the bus to make the trip to Mobile, Ala. for the South Alabama Invitational.  Mihelich chose Lindner to step into Grimes place on the team.

“I packed in about five minutes,” Lindner said. “I felt so bad because she’s one of my best friends on the team.  I decided there is nothing I can do now, I’m here for the team.  Once I got there I thought ‘I’m really just going to try my hardest to prove that I should be able to go to these tournaments’.”

And she did.

In the tournament, Lindner shot a three-round score of 232, good for 22nd overall and best among her teammates.

Three weeks later, Lindner got another chance to prove herself, this time before the North Florida Intercollegiate invitational.

Lindner was chosen as an alternate for the tournament because her teammate, senior Ashleigh Rushing, got sick.  Lindner, on only a day’s notice, travelled with the team to Jacksonville, Fla.

Lindner would not need to step in for Rushing, but still played as an individual. This time Lindner finished in a tie for 24th with a three-round score of 240, good for second best on the team.

Lindner believes her ability to step into pressure situations like these and succeed started at an early age.

“I’m a pressure player,” Lindner said. “Growing up, my dad always would put pressure on me whether it was ice cream for making a putt, or he would have a bunch of people watch me hit my drive.  I feel like being that replacement, or that alternate put pressure on me.”

Since the North Florida Invitational, Lindner has appeared in all but one tournament.

She posted her highest finish of the season at the Saluki Invitational when she shot an 84 in the first round, but bounced back in the second round with a score of 75.  Her two-round score of 159 was good for a tie for 15th place.

Mihelich said Lindner has improved a lot since her freshman year.

“Mattie is really coachable, she’s really positive and takes really good direction,” Mihelich said. “Since she came here as a freshman, we’ve really improved the fundamentals on her golf swing, so she’s been able over time to build her swing to make it fundamentally more sound.”

Mihelich said Lindner’s attitude makes her a pleasure to coach.

“As a teammate, she’s just really encouraging and really happy out there, she’s always got a smile on her face,” Mihelich said. “She really just loves the game of golf.”

Lindner and the Salukis will face Murray State University Sunday in Cape Girardeau, Mo. at the Dalhousie Golf Club.

Tony McDaniel can be reached at tmcdaniel@dailyegyptian.com, @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282

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