Women’s golf takes first at Missouri Valley

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The Baker University women’s golf team had one of its best tournaments of the year, winning the Missouri Valley Spring Invite by 37 strokes.

The men also performed well at the Indian Foothills Golf Course, but finished second by seven strokes to Culver-Stockton College.

“I was pleased with the teams’ respective efforts,” head coach Karen Exon said, “especially on Tuesday, when the weather was really adverse.”

With temperature dropping to the 40s on Tuesday, after a mid-60s and sunny Monday, the women shot their best round of the season with a 349, through wind, rain and a short burst of hail.

“The pea-sized hail wasn’t enough to delay anything, but it stung a little bit,” Exon said. “With all of their layers they had on, I’m sure it didn’t really matter to them.”

The Wildcats’ 349 was a seven-stroke improvement from Monday, when the women from Graceland University ended the first day with a one-stroke lead.

“We haven’t had a lot of competition from our conference in the last few years, so ending the day in second was a wake-up call,” Exon said. “I wasn’t upset, and the girls weren’t upset, but it gave them a bit of motivation to go out there in Tuesday and perform.”

Baker had three women place in the top five individually, with sophomore Lindsey Mateer finishing first yet again.

“Lindsey led from start to finish, and she’ll probably win another HAAC (Heart of America Athletic Conference) Player of the Week award,” Exon said. “She has a big lead over everyone for Player of the Year, except for our own freshman Kaci Dillingham, who is one-and-a-half or two strokes back.”

Exon, along with the men’s team, was disappointed in Baker’s second-place finish.

“I’m one of the most competitive people I know, and I don’t want to lose to anyone,” she said. “And the guys, especially our seniors, weren’t too pleased about taking the picture with a second-place plaque, but I told them that it would be a good learning experience.”

Just like the women’s first round slip-up to Graceland, Exon believes that this will serve as a wake-up call before the conference tournament comes around.

“It showed that we can’t take anything for granted,” she said. “But I hope it will set us up to take the conference title.”

Junior Kelly Thompson finished tied for first-place individually at the end of the two rounds but won a scorecard playoff to end as the tournament’s medalist. Freshman Kyle Fecteau, playing for the JV squad, finished tied for sixth place.

“I put Kyle down on the JV team after the Graceland tournament because he messed up his official scorecard and was disqualified as a result, and he came out really strong and played with confidence,” Exon said.

Even though Fecteau’s score would have reduced the gap between Baker and C-SC had he been on varsity, Exon would have made the same choice given the chance.

“I think it was a good learning experience for Kyle, and needless to say, he’ll be back on varsity for the next tournament,” she said.

That tournament will be at Baker’s home course at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, which Exon believes is the most difficult in the HAAC.

“It’s a 7,250-yard course, but the effective playing length is more like 7,550 when you add the wind and elevation differences,” she said. “Holes 12-18 might be the most difficult in the state, but I think we are blessed to be able to practice here because playing at such a difficult course every day, it prevents our golfers from being intimidated by any other course. It also gives us a competitive advantage when the other schools come to play here.”

The Baker University-hosted tournament will start at 8 a.m. on April 16 and 17.