Hailey Hoagland, Grizzlies finish strong at Cowgirl

Hailey Hoagland, Grizzlies finish strong at Cowgirl

PALM DESERT, Calif. — The Montana women’s golf team shot a 304 on Sunday, the Grizzlies’ second-lowest round of the fall, as the Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate concluded at the Classic Club.

Montana, which finished 11th out of 12 teams, struggled through rounds of 321 and 317 on Saturday but looked like a different group of golfers on Sunday. Results

Junior Kari Opatz (74-77-75—226) had her third solid round of the tournament with a 75, junior Hailey Hoagland (81-79-73—233) played more to form with a 73, and freshmen Teigan Avery (81-80-78—239) and Caitlyn Villatora (86-81-78—245) both had their first sub-80 rounds of the weekend.

The only better performance for Montana this fall was the 302 it shot in the second round of the Washington State Cougar Cup.

“It was nice to see them come back and respond with a good round,” said coach Matt Higgins. “We still gave up a few strokes, but it’s a learning process.”

Outside of Opatz, who was one stroke off the 74 she opened with on Saturday morning, all of Montana’s golfers had their best round of the tournament on Sunday.

“We know we’re capable of it. We just have to believe it and trust in ourselves,” said Higgins. “Today was very important to get some confidence.”

Opatz, who tied for 19th, could have challenged for a top-10 finish had she closed stronger on Sunday. She birdied three of her first six holes and was still sitting 2-under after 15. She finished double bogey, bogey, double bogey to go from 2-under to 3-over.

“I think Kari learned something today,” said Higgins. “She had a rough finish to her last three holes, but it’s something she’s trying to work through and learn how to finish a round.”

Hoagland, a Butte High graduate, played her final nine holes at 1-under to match her low round of the fall, and Avery was three holes from carding a score in the low 70s as well. She had one double bogey and two triples. She played her other 15 holes at 2-under.

“Hailey played really, really well,” said Higgins. “She scrambled and got up and down a lot, and that’s what you need to do to score well. And Teigan just has to stay away from those big numbers.”

Villatora, who had a double bogey on two of her first three holes, played her final 15 at 2-over.

Santa Clara’s Annie Freman (70-68-72—210) won the tournament at 6-under. She was the only player under par.

Santa Clara (298-292-292—882) won the team title by five strokes over Cal Poly (295-299-293—887).

Montana will be back in action next Monday and Tuesday at the Pat Lesser Harbottle Invitational at Tacoma, Washington.

— Montana Sports Information

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