GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Montana State University Billings senior Shealyn Hafer matched her collegiate personal best for the second straight tournament, as she fired a 1-over-par 73 on Friday at Palm Valley Golf Club to lead the MSUB women’s golf team in the opening round of the Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational. (Results)
The Yellowjackets posted a team score of 316 on the par-72, 6,005-yard course layout, and are in 16th place among the field of 23 teams.
“The team played well, and it was really important for them to be on the right side of the hole on the greens,” said MSUB head coach Jeff Allen. “They did a good job with their short game. The greens are really nice and fast compared to what we are used to, and I thought they handled it really well. As a team we can improve tomorrow, and I look forward to them doing that.”
Hafer’s mistakes were few and far between on Friday, as the Butte High graduate managed the course brilliantly with nothing worse than a bogey on her score card. Hafer shot 13 total pars, which was tied for the third most by any player in the tournament. She also had the best score by any Great Northwest Athletic Conference player on Friday, as Western Washington University and Saint Martin’s University are also competing at the event. One of the senior’s top shots on the day came on the par-3, 140-yard third hole, where she stuck her tee shot inside of two feet and tapped in a birdie putt.
“I played super solid all day,” said Hafer, who is in a tie for seventh place and is just three shots behind the tournament’s co-leaders. “I was very confident with my swing the whole day, which makes a big difference when you’re out on the course.”
Hafer finished her round with a clutch approach shot on the par-4, 365-yard ninth hole. She drilled a 135-yard shot to within 12 feet of the hole, and drained the putt to equal her career low on her final shot of the day.
“Shealyn has experience here and really likes this course, and that helps a lot,” Allen said. “She just drives the ball so well, and she is always in play. She hit a lot of good iron shots and didn’t get herself into trouble around the greens. She was smart how she selected her clubs and her targets, and got a few putts to drop as well.”
Sophomore Renae Heisler wrapped up her opening round with a 79, and sits in a tie for 57th place after Round 1. Heisler also kept her mistakes to a minimum, with just one double bogey on Friday. She made up for it with a birdie on the par-4, 355-yard 15th hole, as she opened the day at even-par through her first six holes.
Senior Sarah Schroefel is in a tie for 66th place after Round 1, as she turned in an 80 her first time through the course. Schroefel overcame a rough start with a 44 over her first nine holes, and cruised through her second nine with an even-par 36 score. That came thanks in large part to three birdies over the front-nine, including birdies on the par-3, 140-yard third hole and the par-3, 135-yard seventh hole. Schroefel’s four birdies were tied for the second most among the tournament field on Friday.
Freshman Kinsey Irvin competed as an individual at the event, and matched Schroefel as she also shot an 80 on Friday. Irvin had 11 pars her first time through and posted just one double-bogey on her card with consistent marks of 40 on both the front-nine and back-nine.
Tierney Messmer is in a tie for 97th place after Round 1, as she finished with a score of 84. Sophomore Sydney Rochford also competed for the ‘Jackets, and is in 112th place after shooting a 95.
Colorado State University-Pueblo had four players shoot a 73 on Friday, and the Thunderwolves are in first place with a team score of 292. Anahi Servin of the Academy of Art, Alexis Marshall of Cal State Monterey Bay, and Abigail Rigsby of Oklahoma Christian are in a three-way tie for first place after each shooting a 70 on Friday.
THE BUZZ: Hafer was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…Hafer had a 73 in the opening round of the Warrior Invitational on March 12 in Las Vegas.
AHEAD: The second and final round of the event is set to kick off on Saturday morning. Tee times start at 7:30 a.m.
— MSUB Sports Information