Daily Egyptian

Salukis hold off Racers to open season with a win

By Thomas Donley

The Saluki women’s golf team opened its season in style Monday and Tuesday.

SIU added to its record books and capped off its first tournament of the fall with a dramatic win.

The team and sophomore Brooke Cusumano recorded one of the lowest single-round scores in school history Monday. However, junior Mattie Lindner still needed to sink a par putt in the eighth tiebreaker hole to seal the victory.

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SIU competed at the Jan Weaver – Murray State Invitational at Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, Ky., on Monday and Tuesday. The Salukis were part of a 12-team field for the three-round tournament.

The course at Drake Creek played 6,178 yards to a par-72.

The Salukis finished in second place after the first round, shooting 304 as a team. Cusumano and Lindner both led SIU with scores of 74.

Xianmei Jin and Kris Grimes each posted a 78 in the first round. Kristie Yang shot an 81.

Competing as an individual in her first collegiate tournament, freshman Alice Ho carded a 75.

“Alice was great,” head coach Alexis Mihelich said. “If she keeps it up in the next couple qualifiers, she could be playing in a couple tournaments.”

Western Kentucky University, led by freshman Emily Alexander, held a nine-stroke lead after 18 holes.

The Salukis followed their solid first round with a historic second round.

As a team, SIU shot a 292 in its second round of the day. The score is fourth-lowest in school history.

Cusumano led the Salukis with a 68 in the second round, placing her in a five-way tie for third place in the SIU record book for lowest individual score. Cusumano also scored a 68 at Drake Creek over the summer.

“I was just thinking, ‘have fun,’” Cusumano said. “No matter what happens, always just have fun and just roll the ball at the hole.”

Cusumano finished Monday’s competition in first place individually.

The Salukis’ efforts in the second round pulled them ahead of the Lady Toppers. SIU carried an eight-stroke lead over Western Kentucky into Tuesday’s third and final round.

After the third round, the Salukis were tied with host Murray State’s B team at 910. The Racers started the day in fourth place, 14 strokes behind SIU.

Mihelich said the Murray State golfers were birdie machines, as they shot a 291 to tie SIU.

The Salukis and Racers played to a stalemate through the first four playoff holes. The teams were still tied heading into the fourth hole of the second playoff, but Lindner sank a par putt to seal the victory for SIU.

“It was really nerve-wracking,” Lindner said. “But that’s what golfers live for. Golf ’s not a sport like basketball where your adrenaline gets pumping running up and down the court. It’s the putts that count that give you that energy.”

The third round started at 8:30 a.m., but the tiebreaker did not end until about 4:45 p.m.

“Overall we played pretty good,” Mihelich said. “But there’s some places where we can improve.”

Cusumano finished third overall individually, and Lindner finished tied for ninth, both career-bests.

Lindner said the Salukis are capable of continuing their success throughout the season.

“I just think we need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Lindner said. “Everything is there. This year can be a great year.”

Thomas can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @tdonleyde or at 536-3311 ext. 256

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