Salukis in first after day one

By Gus Bode

Zoerlien leads MVC field with personal best minus-3 69

After one round of the Missouri Valley Conference Championships, the SIU women’s golf team is sitting atop the leader board, and its freshman, Christine Zoerlien, is the main reason why.

Zoerlien, who leads the tournament field, shot a career-high 69 to lead the Salukis into Monday’s round two.

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“I just tried to fight for every shot,” Zoerlien said. “I hit just about every fairway and every green. I had five birdies today, and no bogies, so that was good. I’m not going to set my standards as high as a 69, but I’ll just try to keep things even, and then the birdies will come.”

A team stocked with young talent, SIU knew that in order to make noise at conference that the talent had to materialize at once. The pressure continued to mount as top golfers Natalie Parker and Kelly Gerlach only managed to put up scores in the 80’s.

With the help of Zoerlien, the team’s promising talent materialized with her minus-3 on the par 72 course at Rivercut Golf Club in Springfield, Mo.

“Christine was just remarkable,” head coach Diane Daugherty said. “Her low round of the whole year up to today was a 76, so her 69 was phenomenal.”

Zoerlien, who was the only golfer to shoot under par on the day, was the top story from the first day of competition. The only other golfer to shoot at par was her teammate, sophomore Josie Lowder, who sits at second overall.

Two other Saluki golfers also contributed to the team’s 298 combined score on Sunday, which put them two strokes ahead of second place Illinois State. Sophomore Samantha Sutzer placed in a tie at 14th place with a score of 78 and senior Stephanie Pate shot a 79 that put her in a tie at 18th place.

“We knew we needed to play well,” Daugherty said. “To break 300 is fabulous. I would have taken a 305 before we teed off today, so I’m very happy with the 298.”

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Sunday’s round also came close to hitting the record books. The best score ever for an SIU team in one round is 293.

Daugherty is seeing everything that she would like to see out of her team so far, but she is well aware that there are two more days and 36 more holes of action left to decide who is the best in the Valley.

“For that type of play to happen at conference is great, but we need two good rounds to back it up,” Daugherty said. “I’m happy, but it’s not even halftime yet. You can’t ever win a golf tournament on the first day.”

Reporter Kyle Means can be reached at [email protected]

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