Montana golfers place 11th in Phoenix

Montana golfers place 11th in Phoenix

PHOENIX — The Montana golf team shot its best round of the Grand Canyon Invitational on Sunday, carding a 301 as the Grizzlies finished 11th at the Grand Canyon Championship Golf Course. (Results)

Baylee Barckley closed with a 1-over 73, her best score since winning the Battle at Old Works in September, to break into the top 20. She tied for 19th.

Kari Opatz, who had an eagle on Sunday, shot a final-round 75, as did Teigan Avery. Butte High graduate Hailey Hoagland was Montana’s fourth scorer on Sunday, carding a 78.

“We did some great scrambling this weekend. We weren’t necessarily hitting the ball great, but we were getting the ball in the hole the last 27 holes, and that made a difference,” said Nord, whose team opened with rounds of 316 and 311 on Saturday.

“I liked how we finished up. We made a good comeback after digging a hole the first round.”

Barckley, who shot rounds of 76 and 77 on Saturday, did her best work on the course’s four par-5’s. Of her seven birdies at the tournament, five came on the course’s longest holes. She played those holes at 4-under for the tournament to rank third in the 85-golfer field.

“Usually it’s her length that allows her to do that, but she wasn’t putting the ball in the fairway this tournament,” said Nord. “She showed she’s got a good scramble game to go along with her distance. It was just good, gritty golf.”

After posting scores of 80 and 83 on Saturday, Opatz rebounded with a 75 on Sunday. She was sitting 4-over through 11 holes when she eagled the short 281-yard par-4 fourth.

Her drive left her on the fringe of the green, and she chipped in.

“She deserved it. She didn’t get a lot of breaks at this tournament in terms of putts dropping,” said Nord.

Portland State, with rounds of 296, 304 and 287, won the tournament for the second straight year by two strokes over Utah Valley. Northern Colorado (302-306-292) rounded out the top three.

Montana State’s Kelly Hooper claimed medalist honors after defeating Utah Valley’s Carly Dehlin in a playoff. Both golfers finished the tournament at 3-over.

Montana won’t be back on the course until the Red Rocks Invitational in Sedona, Ariz., on March 24-25.

“I wish we had a tournament to go to next week, because I’m happy how things went this weekend,” said Nord. “The more chances you have outside, the more tuned in your game gets.

“I expect us to be shooting 300 or below, and we’re getting there. We’re going in the right direction.”

— Montana Sports Information

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