Whitman women finish ninth in O'Brien Invite

Tuesday, Sep 18, 2012

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Whitman College’s Catelyn Webber shot a second-round 85 here Monday at the O’Brien Invitational women’s golf tournament to improve by three shots over her first-round 88.

But the Bellevue, Wash., junior was the only Missionary who took positive steps during the final round of the prestigious NCAA Division III get together as Whitman recorded a 343 score for its top four players and slipped from eighth place to ninth in the final team standings with a 679 total.

The Whits shot 336 in Sunday’s first round, and Missionary coach Skip Molitor was hopeful that his team could leapfrog as many as three schools that were within five shots or fewer as the second round began.

“We were hoping to move up,” Molitor said. “Instead, we reversed directions.

“But at this level of play, as far as the caliber of these teams, all of the spots are pretty difficult to jump over.”

Webber’s 36-hole tally of 173 left her in a tie for 37th place individually. Two of her Missionary teammates, junior Katie Zajicek (Corvallis, Ore.) and sophomore Kelly Sweeney (Enumclaw, Wash.), finished ahead of her in 15th and 31st places, respectively.

Zajicek followed up a first-round 80 with an 82 on Monday for a 162 score. Sweeney shot 88 on Monday after opening the tournament on Sunday with an 82.

Whitman’s fourth counting score belonged to freshman Alyssa Maine (Spokane), who finished 86-88—174. Senior Tate Head (Bellingham, Wash.) recorded a non-counting 91-88—179 and senior Caitland Holland (Edgewood, Wash.), who was entered as an individual, shot 91-98—189

Molitor was particularly pleased to see Zajicek get her season started on a positive note.

“Last fall, she was in the top 10 in the nation in scoring average,” Molitor said. “But during the spring she struggled. So it’s great for us to have her start this way. She can consistently post low numbers and I was pleased with her tournament.”

Methodist University won the team championship with a 633 score, seven shots better than second place Washington University of St. Louis. Centre College was third at 641, followed by DePauw University 649, Wisconsin-Eau Claire 659, George Fox 660, Allegheny College 668, St. Mary’s College 670, Whitman 679 and Gustavus Adolphus 680.

“The nice thing is that the team we finished ahead received one of the two at-large invitations to last year’s national tournament,” Molitor said. “Gustavos is a perennial power.”

George Fox, one of Whitman’s Northwest Conference rivals and the recipient of last year’s other national at-large invitation, is also considered a perennial power in Division III women’s golf. Whitman finished ahead of George Fox last spring and earned its first automatic entry into the national tourney.

George Fox will be a formidable opponent again this year because of its No. 1 player, Kelsey Morrison, who shot rounds of 73 and 76 at the O’Brien Invitational for a medalist-winning score of 149.

“She’s one of the very top players in the country,” Molitor said of Morrison. “She will be in contention for player of the year honors.”

Morrison finished four shots in front of DePauw’s Kelsey Smith, who followed up an opening-round 83 with a sizzling 2-under-par 70 on Monday for a 153 total.