PULLMAN, Wash. — Junior Hailey Hoagland shot rounds of 74 and 76, and three of the Montana golf team’s top four scorers were newcomers as the Grizzlies opened their fall tournament schedule with a solid showing Monday on day one of the Cougar Cup at Washington State’s Palouse Ridge Golf Course. Results
Hoagland, a Butte High graduate, was joined in the team’s top four by junior Kari Opatz, a transfer from Concordia-St. Paul, and freshmen Caitlyn Villatora and Teigan Avery.
Montana shot rounds of 307 and 302, and is in seventh place with a final 18 holes to be played on Tuesday morning. The Grizzlies posted rounds of 316 and 311 on day one at the same tournament last September.
“It’s an improvement from last year, and that’s what we want to see for the first tournament out,” said second-year coach Matt Higgins.
Hoagland and Opatz both carded 2-over 74s in the opening round, with Villatora coming in at 78 and Avery at 81. In the afternoon round, the winds picked up, but Montana’s scores for the most part dropped.
Villatora shot a 74, with Hoagland, Avery and sophomore Baylee Barckley carding 76s. The team was able to throw out Opatz’s 77, a reflection of the team’s depth this year.
“That shows you how much difference there is from last year to this year,” said Higgins. “I’d throw out a 77 every week if I could. If you’re doing that, you’re scoring well.
“The first round we gave up some strokes midway through the round. It was good to see them get refocused and come back and score well. It was windy in the second round, and they really battled.”
Higgins brought his full team of 10 to Pullman, with five playing as individuals. The Grizzlies posted eight scores of 78 or better in the second round.
Senior Amanda Kahn shot rounds of 79 and 78, senior Alexa Schendelman cut her score from 83 to 78 from the first to second round, and freshman Caylyn Villatora improved from 85 to 78.
Hoagland (74-76), who shot rounds of 77, 72 and 73 last year at the Cougar Cup, is tied for 18th. Opatz (74-77) is tied for 25th, Villatora (78-74) is tied for 29th, and Avery (81-76) is tied for 45th, as is Kahn (79-78), who is playing as an individual.
Washington State, with rounds of 289 and 293, leads the tournament by one stroke over Idaho (291-292), last year’s Big Sky Conference champion, and two strokes over Cal State Fullerton (293-292).
Sacramento State (294-296) and Montana State (292-301) are sitting in fourth and fifth place.
Fullerton’s Martina Edberg (72-68) leads the field at 4-under. Sacramento State’s Astha Madan (74-69), at 1-under, is also under par. Six players are even par or 1-over.
— Montana Sports Information