Portland State’s women’s golf team placed sixth at the Boise State Bronco Fall Classic on Oct. 20 and 21, the last tournament of the fall season. Sixteen schools attended the fall showdown, including several Big Sky Conference teams. The closest Big Sky team to the Vikings was Eastern Washington, which placed eighth, 17 strokes behind.
Ninety golfers played in the two-day event, 18 holes each day for each player. The team format of collegiate golf has each school with five players. Only the four best scores are kept, and the day total of all four golfers is the score for that school.
On the first day the women shot 311, and the second day 313. Compared to last year’s team average in the high 320s, this Viking team is remarkably better. In fact, the team average at the end of fall this year is 314.14, 12 strokes better than last year, or a three-stroke-per-person improvement.
With only 24 strokes between the first six schools, head coach Felica Johnson said, “We’re not satisfied with only sixth place, we want to win. By spring our goal is to shoot 310 or better.”
In the finicky world of golf, a few strokes is the difference between a good showing and first-place finish. On the par-72 course, Taya Battistella shot 75-75 for a 150 eighth-place finish. On her way to a second consecutive 75, Battistella had 3 bogeys in row, and the first day she was 1 under par after 16 holes.
Previous Big Sky Conference golfer of the week Sarah Tiller shot 75-80 for a 155 20th-place finish. Tiller was 2 under par going into the 16th hole on the first day, and after shooting a 1 under par at the Northern Arizona Invitational, it seems she is improving from tournament to tournament.
Rebecca Randolph also shot an 81-74 – 155 total for 20th place – but the 74 on the second day was solid. She had two bogeys that were three puts and one bogey was a missed green. Each bogey was more mental than physical and shows Randolph has plenty of room to lower her score. Jenna Lee shot 80-84 for a 164 and tied for 52nd place.
Johnson was pleased with the women’s performance but noted that Battistella, Tiller and Randolph – if they had avoided a few costly bogeys at the end – could have realistically saved seven strokes and placed 3rd. With this kind of room for improvement, it is obvious that the women can reach their spring goal of 310 or better.
“My job is preparation,” Johnson said. And because each golfer is different and “the actual time of play is 1 minute, 30 seconds, preparation is key.”
The women’s next tournament is not until February, and their spring goal is the conference championship. In a sport that has a “who you know” organization to it, “a conference championship is a must,” Johnson explains.
The former Pac-10 player and coach also emphasizes that “post-season success is determined by strength of schedule,” and strength of schedule is determined by success in tournaments, conference championships and “who you know.”