Salukis post fifth-place finish in season opener

By Gus Bode

The SIU women’s golf team didn’t have its best finish Tuesday, but coach Diane Daugherty said she thinks the team is headed in a positive direction.

The Salukis finished in fifth place in the 11-team field at the Payne Stewart Memorial. SIU shot a two-day total of 622 and finished behind Missouri Valley Conference rivals Missouri State (third) and Bradley (fourth), but in front of Wichita State (seventh) and Northern Iowa (eighth).

Despite the middle-of-the-pack finish, Daugherty said she was happy with how her team performed in its first tournament.

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“We are in the position where we can make improvements,” Daugherty said. “I was really pleased.”

SIU’s best performance came from freshman Alisha Matthews, who was appearing in her first collegiate tournament.

Matthews, who posted the best individual score for the Salukis Tuesday, shot a final round score of 74 to follow up her first round score of 78. She was one of four SIU golfers to finish among the tournament’s 25 best finishers.

Matthews said her first tournament experience was exciting, thanks in part to her teammates.

“I’m learning a lot from them,” she said. “We’re all here for each other.”

Seniors Lauren May, Kate Laegeler and Braidy Hood finished 12th, 17th and 25th respectively, while freshman Margaret Gilley finished tied for 33rd to round out the SIU scorers.

The Salukis entered the second round of the tournament in fourth place after posting a total score of 310 behind the efforts of two senior leaders. May and Hood were the team’s best finishers after round one with a total score of 77, keeping SIU in contention at the top of the leader board.

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But Bradley, Oral Roberts and McNeese State passed the Salukis and Missouri State pulled away from the field, dropping SIU to fifth place.

Oral Roberts followed up its 307 combined score on the first day and shot a final round-best 302 to secure the tournament championship by five strokes ahead of McNeese State.

Even though the tournament did not bring the Salukis the desired result of a first-place finish, Daugherty said she likes the potential her team has in later tournaments.

“Everybody had a good round, and that’s good,” Daugherty said. “I think this is a team that’s going to get better with experience.”

SIU returns to action Sept. 29 at the Johnie Imes Invitational in Columbia, Mo.

Luis C. Medina can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 269 or [email protected]

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