After the SIU women’s golf team ended its fall season with two tournament victories, the team took its game to Tampa during spring break to compete in Northern Illinois University’s Snowbird Classic.
After the team’s fourth place finish in the 2011 NIU Snowbird, a 36-hole tournament on Friday and Saturday, the Salukis used the final round to run away with a first place victory over the other 10 teams in attendance.
“At the beginning of the second round I knew if we wanted to move up on the leaderboard, we needed two scores in the mid-70s and two under 80,” coach Alexis Mihelich said. “We came in more focused than the day before and got everything done that we needed to.”
Round one of the Snowbird Classic had put the Salukis in fourth place, but as the second round rolled on, SIU climbed up three places for a final round score of 304.
“Our parents were all keeping score,” senior golfer Margaret Gilley said.”We did great in round two, but we were all surprised when we got first.”
Gilley paced the Salukis with a final score of 147, as she scored an even par of 72 on the final 18 holes to put her above McNeese State’s second-place finisher by a single stroke.
“Everyone else was on the beach, and we were playing golf,” Gilley said. “But I’m glad we won; it makes it all worthwhile.”
Gilley’s victory marked her second gold medal of the season after a first place finish at the Cardinal Classic in Muncie, Ind. last fall.
Round two proved essential for the Salukis, and each team member earned a higher score than in the first. The Salukis would eventually beat second-place McNeese State by three strokes.
With a weekend tournament on the way, the SIU women’s golf team practiced Wednesday on its home green with hopes that good golfing out of the gate and a week’s rest will secure the team its fourth tournament victory of the 2011-12 season.
The Salukis will be back in action as they host the Saluki Invitational at Hickory Ridge Golf Course March 25 to 26.