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Griz to tee it up at Old Works

03 Dec 2021 | 07:00 | Golf

The Montana women’s golf team, just days after concluding its season-opening tournament in Eden, Utah, will return to the course for the Battle at Old Works at Old Works Golf Club in Anaconda, Mont.

Following a practice round on Sunday, the small field will play 36 holes on Monday, 18 on Tuesday. Only host Montana State, Montana, Eastern Washington and Idaho State will be competing.

The tournament, now in its fourth year, had a field of eight teams in 2017 and ’18, 10 in 2019.

“We’d love to have more teams there and love to have new faces to play against, but we have no control over the field, so we have to push that aside,” said coach Kris Nord.

At the Kelsey Chugg Invitational, played at Wolf Creek Golf Course earlier this week, Montana tied for fifth with rounds of 317-308-306 after missing out on a pre-tournament practice round.

“Everybody played better after the first day,” said Nord. “Not getting our practice round did hinder us a bit, but it did the whole field. I think that’s why scores were a little high to start.”

Montana State (309-314-302) topped Montana by eight strokes in Utah, with Idaho State (319-323-312) and Eastern Washington (319-329-312) finishing seventh and eighth in the nine-team field.

“It should be competitive,” said Nord. “We have three teams that will push us. ISU is better, and I know Eastern will shoot better than they did last week.

“I hope nerves will be down a notch and I hope our course management improves a bit. I’m hoping for some good poise, and decision-making would be a really good thing we can control.”

After shooting rounds of 76-77-75 at Wolf Creek, senior Allison Sobol will play next week as Montana’s No. 1 golfer. Senior Kylie Esh (80-76-73), who was one stroke behind Sobol, will be No. 2.

Sobol finished seventh in Eden, Esh tied for eighth.

Two golfers likely to be in the field at Old Works topped Sobol and Esh at Wolf Creek. Montana State’s Kameryn Basye (78-72-72) finished third, Idaho State’s Tya Seth (78-77-71) tied for fourth.

Former Griz Baylee Barckley won the first edition of the Battle at Old Works in 2017 by one stroke after shooting 70-72-72. Montana has not had a top-five finisher since.

Jessica Ponce, Meredith Boos and Patricia Joyce will be Montana’s other scoring players. Emmy Sundby, Kylie Franklin, Madison Cecil and Margaret Harmon will compete as individuals.

All but Boos, Franklin and Cecil have competed on the Old Works course before.

Esh (75-76-75) tied for 10th at the most recent Battle at Old Works in 2019. Joyce shot a second-round 70 at that tournament, Sobol a closing-round 74.

“Having some familiarity with the course is huge. Having seen it and knowing what you’re getting into should help everybody’s confidence a bit,” said Nord.

“It’s fairly wide-open driving for the most part, but if you get off the fairway, you’re going to be penalized.

“The big shot is your approach into the green. You have to be in the right spot. If you hit it to the wrong spot on some of the greens, it’s really hard to do better than bogey.”

Montana opened its season Monday and Tuesday at the Kelsey Chugg Invitational.

Esh, who has a career scoring average of 77.2, did as well as expected. The surprise was Sobol, who played in two tournaments in the spring and didn’t shoot better than 83 over five rounds.

She opened her fall with a double-bogey 5 on her very first hole at Wolf Creek and added another double six holes later, but she was rock-solid after that.

She had nothing worse than a bogey over her final 47 holes and closed the tournament with a 75, with three bogeys and 15 holes played at par over her final 18.

What changed from spring to fall? “My putting for one,” she said. “Also my mindset. I’m putting a lot less pressure on myself and having more fun with it, and it’s helping tremendously.

“This year I wanted to change it up, so I’m just going out there and taking each shot as it comes and having fun and not sweating the small mistakes and getting past those obstacles.”

Montana will close out its condensed fall schedule when it hosts the Griz Invitational at the Missoula Country Club on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 5-6.