MISSOULA — Montana senior Hailey Hoagland turned the first top-10 finish of her career into another first on Wednesday. She was named the Big Sky Conference co-Golfer of the Week by the league office.
Hoagland tied for seventh at the Pat Lesser-Harbottle Invitational in Lakewood, Wash., a tournament played at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club on Monday and Tuesday.
Among those in a three-way tie for seventh with Hoagland was Weber State’s Kiselya Plewe. The two golfers shared this week’s league honors.
The Butte High graduate shot rounds of 70, 77 and 79 as Montana finished ninth out of 14 teams at its final tournament of the fall.
It was the fourth consecutive October the Grizzlies have played the course. Counting each tournament’s practice round, Hoagland played it 16 times in her four years by the time Tuesday’s final round was complete.
“It definitely helps, knowing where to be and not to be, and the shot you need to hit on certain holes,” said Hoagland. “And I’ve gained some distance since my freshman year, so your expectations kind of grow as well.”
Hoagland opened with a 2-under 70 for Monday’s first round, the second-lowest score of her career behind the 69 she shot in the second round at the Battle at Old Works last month in Anaconda.
It was the third-best score of the tournament behind a pair of 69s by golfers from Cal State Northridge and British Columbia, and made even more notable when none of her four teammates broke 80.
“My 70 was all about putting. I was making everything,” she said. “I hit a lot of greens, which helped. I either made the putt for birdie or was making easy two-putts. You need your putter to score well, and that’s what I did.”
Starting her round at the 16th, she opened with eight straight pars before carding birdies on three of the next four holes to move to 3-under. She gave away a stroke on the par-5 11th, then closed with pars on the difficult back nine to come in at 70 and tied for second after 18 holes.
“The course is so difficult if you’re not on all parts of your game,” Hoagland said. “There is a stretch of four holes on the back nine, that if you don’t hit it in the middle of the fairway or on the correct part of the green, the best you can do is bogey.”
Hoagland had three birdies for Monday’s second round as well but also had six bogeys and a double. She didn’t card a birdie for her final round on Tuesday.
“I actually played really well my second round, so I was kind of disappointed with my score,” she said. “The difference between my first and second round was basically where I put myself off the tee.
“But it was good enough for my first top-10 finish, so I guess I can’t complain too much about my scores for the week.”
Hoagland was the only Montana golfer in the top 30. Her teammates, with just 13 birdies between them, played nine of their 12 rounds in the 80s as the Grizzlies posted scores of 313, 312 and 316.
“We didn’t have a lot of birdies. If you don’t have any birdies, you can’t come back from a bogey or a double. Things just keep adding up,” she said.
“That’s what happened to me the last day (when I shot a 79). I didn’t play any differently than I did the first two rounds. I didn’t have a single birdie, and it adds up pretty quickly when you can’t make putts.”
The tournament was the final outing of the fall for Montana. Hoagland played the team’s four events at a stroke average of 76.42, the best on the team ahead of Baylee Barckley (77.00) and Kari Opatz (78.00).
Montana will open its spring schedule at the Battle at the Rock in Riverside, Calif., in mid-February.
— Griz Communications