Women’s golf place eighth at MAC Championships

Chris Rambo and Chris Rambo

The BG women’s golf season came to a close over the weekend with an eighth-place finish at the Mid-American Conference Championships.

The Falcons turned in a round of 327 in soggy conditions on Sunday to beat out ninth-place Northern Illinois by six strokes.

Kent State swept medalist honors, with the Golden Flashes beating Ball State by 19 strokes, and Kent State junior Martina Gavier took the individual title by three strokes over Brittany Kelly of Ball State.

From a BG perspective, the biggest story to emerge from the weekend was Susy Grunden shooting 230 to finish in a tie for 11th — in the process, she broke Jenny Scnipke’s single-season scoring record.

Grunden’s season average of 78.53 was a hairsbreadth better than Scnipke’s 2003-04 total of 78.54.

“Susy just had a phenomenal freshman season,” said coach Stephanie Young. “”What she accomplished would have been magnificent for a senior, let alone a freshman. I can speak for the whole team when I say I am very proud of her. All of her hard work and determination paid off.”

Excited as she was, the record was a distant second in Grunden’s mind to crafting a strong final round and helping the Falcons post a higher score than Northern Illinois.

“The scoring record is a pretty cool thing to have,” Grunden said. “But to be honest, I wasn’t even really thinking about it on Sunday. I was just trying to keep playing well.”

A double bogey-triple bogey finish at 17 and 18 on Saturday meant that Grunden needed to post 76 or better in Sunday’s final round to eclipse Scnipke in the record book.

After making the turn in at two-over 38, Grunden began spilling shots over the second nine. Wayward drives led to bogeys at 11 and 15, and a second shot that ended up in the water resulted in a double bogey at 13.

As she arrived on the tee at the par-3 17th with a score of six-over for the day, Grunden needed birdies at the two holes that had bedeviled her just the day before if she was going to break the record.

After seeing how her freshman had finished the previous day, Young decided to walk with Grunden over the final stretch Sunday to serve as a steadying influence.

“I just tried to get Susy’s mind focused on the present situation instead of what happened on Saturday,” Young said. “I did not want the moment to get away from her.”

With Young looking on, Grunden’s tee shot landed right in the middle on the green on the 140-yard 17th.

From there Susy drained the twisting downhill 30-footer for birdie. Phase one was accomplished.

“It was funny, because I had not made a putt of any kind of length all day,” Grunden said. “But the girl I played with had the exact same putt so I was able to get a nice read off of her. I guess it helped.”

Next up was the short par-4 18th, an easy hole on the surface, but one that demands supreme accuracy, thanks to a water hazard flanking the left side.

In the third round, Grunden found that hazard off the tee, leading to her triple bogey.

On Sunday, however, she stood firm on the tee box and ripped her 3-wood down the middle, leaving a mere 100 yards to the green. From there, Grunden hit a wedge to within five feet and then strolled to the green and knocked in the putt.

The second consecutive birdie gave Grunden a round of 76, and the school record all to herself.

“As good as the record is, I definitely feel that there is a lot more for me to accomplish,” Grunden said. “I plan to devote the summer to continue working on my swing. I’m also going to redo my putting stroke so that it will hold up better in pressure situations. I feel that was my main weakness this year.”

Besides Grunden’s performance, there were also plenty of other reasons for the Falcons to feel good about their weekend.

After an unsightly 90 on Friday, senior Hannah Lambert staged quite a turnaround in her final collegiate tournament, posing scores of 82 and 83 in the 2nd and 3rd rounds to finish at 255 and close out her career on a positive note.

“It was a very nice trip for Hannah,” Young said. “I told her after round one that we needed her on the final two days and she delivered for us. It was a very nice way to close her career.”

Lauren Glew also finished strong, closing with a pair of 82s after opening on Friday with 86.

The junior captain finished 35th with a score of 250. Amy Ruthenberg posted a career low 81 in round two with a pair of 86s to come in at 253 and finish tied for 39th. Marisa Glew shot 85-84-89 to finish 43rd at 258.