ANACONDA — Baylee Barckley, who shot an even-par 72 on Tuesday to earn medalist honors at the eight-team Battle at Old Works in Anaconda, is going to have to come up with some new goals. Her originals are already dated.
“I told (teammate Kari Opatz) on the first day of classes that my goal this year is to win a tournament,” Barckley said. “Now that it’s happened at the first tournament of the season, I’m going to have to set some new ones.”
Barckley’s performance, the program’s first tournament win since Barbora Bakova won the Sacramento State Invitational in the spring of 2015, was the highlight of a successful opening tournament for the Montana women’s golf team.
The Grizzlies shot rounds of 300 and 299 on Monday, then went even lower on Tuesday, carding a 296, the team’s best score since going 294 at the Washington State Cougar Cup in September 2014. Results
Barckley and Opatz both shot 72s on Tuesday. Butte High graduate Hailey Hoagland came in at 75, Teigan Avery at 77.
“We played real well in tougher conditions than we had yesterday. It was windier out there,” said interim head coach Kris Nord. “It was good, solid play and a good start for us.”
Barckley shot rounds of 70 and 72 on Monday to take the 36-hole lead. She had an up-and-down final round but ultimately used six birdies to offset a pair of bogeys and two doubles.
“Knowing where I stood when we started today, I was way more nervous than I was yesterday. I’m usually only nervous on the first hole, but today it probably lasted the first nine,” said Barckley. “But once I got into a groove, I started making birdies.”
Starting her day at No. 6, Barckley doubled the par-3 13th to move to 2-over through eight holes, but she birdied five of the six holes between the 15th and the 2nd to get to 2-under.
She was atop the leaderboard or near it all day.
“I had no clue what anyone else was doing,” she said. “And I didn’t want to know. I figured if I knew, it would only make me more nervous. I just went out there and played shot by shot. I knew if I played well and kept playing my game, I’d be close.”
She doubled the par-3 4th to fall back to even par on her next-to-last hole, but a closing par on the 5th gave her the 72 she needed to win the tournament by a stroke over North Dakota State’s Natalie Roth (73-70-72).
“It was kind of a bummer on the second-to-last hole, but I cleaned it up on the last hole,” she said. “I almost birdied it, so that was a good way to end it. It was nice coming in and finding out I’d won.”
Barckley won the tournament with her play on Old Works’ four par 5s. Over three rounds, she played those 12 holes at 6-under. She also carded a tournament-best 14 birdies.
Her three-round total of 214 is the second-lowest three-round total in program history, ranking behind only Tara Green’s 212 that she shot at the Grizzly Invitational at the Missoula Country Club in the fall of 2013.
“I worked hard over the summer to improve from last year, but I wasn’t expecting this type of performance,” Barckley said. “I just went out and tried to do my best.
“I’m also proud of how the team did. We played great. We’re pretty excited because those are scores we haven’t seen in quite a while.”
Hoagland, who shot a 69 for Monday’s second round, shot a 75 on Tuesday and finished in 12th place. She was 1-under for her first 15 holes before a triple-bogey six on the par-3 4th, followed by a bogey on the 5th left her over par for the round.
Opatz, with a pair of 77s on Monday, played a tidy, even-par final round, with two birdies and two bogeys, to match her low round as a Grizzly. She also finishing in the top 20, tying for 19th.
Avery, who carded two rounds in the 80s on Monday, bounced back with a 77 on Tuesday for the team’s final countable score.
“Kari putted better today and scored where she normally scores,” said Nord. “Hailey had it going again. She had one tough hole, otherwise she’s right in the thick of things. And Teigan brought her score down to where she normally is.”
Montana finished fifth in the team standings, eight strokes ahead of Eastern Washington (299-299-305) and 15 ahead of Montana State (311-295-304).
North Dakota State (284-300-294) won the tournament by nine strokes over Cal State Fullerton (299-296-292). Cal State Northridge (291-297-300) was third, Santa Clara (300-291-298) came in fourth.
“For Baylee to win the tournament with this strength of field was pretty impressive,” said Nord. “She was excited, and the girls were excited about finishing ahead of MSU and Eastern.
“And for two of three rounds our score was right there with the team that won it, so it shows the talent on this team.”
In her collegiate debut, Faith D’Ortenzio tied for 31st. She shot rounds of 75 and 81 on Monday, then shot a 78 on Tuesday.
“It was remarkable for Faith,” said Nord. “She hasn’t played 36 holes in a day much, and this is a very tough course to walk. I was really impressed with her golf. For her first tournament as a freshman, she was a stud for us.”
Montana will play its second of four fall tournaments next Monday and Tuesday at the Loyola Invitational. That will be played at the Flossmoor Country Club in Flossmoor, Ill.
— Montana Sports Information