Feb. 18, 2016

By Chris Masters

Westbrook Spring Invitational

Dates: Feb. 21-22, 2016
Format: 54 holes (36 holes Sunday, 18 holes Monday)
Tee Times: 10:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. MT Sunday-Monday (shotgun starts)
Location: Peoria, Arizona
Course (Par/Yardage): Westbrook Village Golf Club ââ’¬” Vistas Course (par 72/6,269 yards)
Tournament Field (in order of latest Golfstat ranking): San Diego State (16), Notre Dame (21), UNLV (23), Oregon (31), SMU (36), Ohio State (47), Illinois (53), Washington State (57), Indiana (71), Kansas State (72), Iowa (78), Oregon State (82), Wisconsin (84), College of Charleston (91) and Nebraska (110).
Notre Dame Lineup (2015-16 stroke average): Maddie Rose Hamilton (74.64), Talia Campbell (73.07), Emma Albrecht (73.29), Isabella DiLisio (72.71), Kari Bellville (75.71), Jordan Ferreira (74.71 ââ’¬” competing as individual)
Live Scoring: BirdieFire.com
Twitter: @NDwomensGolf

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the better part of the past four months, the players and coaches for the University of Notre Dame women’s golf team have walked around the South Bend campus with wide smiles on their faces.

Who can blame them?

The 21st-ranked Fighting Irish are coming off the finest fall season in the program’s 28-year history, posting a 291.36 stroke average that was nearly four shots better than the previous mark (295.08) set one year earlier. Notre Dame also won two tournaments and finished second in another, with six different players placing in the top 10 in at least one event and five players carding at least one round in the 60s.

Along the way, the Fighting Irish defeated six teams appearing in the top 25 of the final Golfstat fall rankings, and toppled 13 top-50 squads. Not a bad resume for a Notre Dame squad that often started three freshmen in its lineup.

Now, the page turns to the spring season, as the Fighting Irish look to continue their 2015-16 success when they begin the second half of their campaign Sunday and Monday at the Westbrook Spring Invitational, which will be played on the Vistas Course (par 72/6,269 yards) at the Westbrook Village Golf Club in Peoria, Arizona.

Notre Dame can learn a lot from its experience last season, as the Fighting Irish began the spring with two top-three finishes to build upon its (then) record-setting stroke average. However, that momentum faded a bit down the stretch with middle-of-the-pack finishes in Notre Dame’s final two regular season tournaments and the Fighting Irish weren’t able to rediscover their sharp play by the time the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA championships rolled around.

One of those early third-place showings last spring came at the Westbrook Invitational, as Notre Dame shot 868 (+4) in its inaugural appearance at the event to tie with the College of Charleston, 17 shots behind tournament champion Tennessee and 14 back of runner-up Oregon.

The Ducks (currently No. 31 in the Golfstat rankings) and Fighting Irish look to be two of the top contenders in this year’s 15-team field, along with No. 16 San Diego State and 23rd-ranked UNLV. Another team to keep an eye on will be Ohio State, which won the Westbrook title in 2014 and finished two strokes behind Notre Dame a season ago.

“We’re looking forward to competing again this weekend to start off the spring season,” Notre Dame head coach Susan Holt said. “This golf course is perfect to get the rust off our games. It’s manageable and conducive to low scores, which is a great combination for us as we get back to playing tournament golf.

“We had a great practice trip to Florida last weekend,” she added. “As a group, we played pretty well and I like where we are from a preparation standpoint right now. We’ll also have two days of practice in Arizona before the tournament starts, which will allow us to get some things fine-tuned. I think we’ll be ready to go and we’re all excited to get the spring season underway.”

According to Golfstat, the Fighting Irish had the nation’s No. 3-ranked freshman class at the end of the fall season. So it comes as no surprise a rookie will lead off and three freshmen will be in the Notre Dame’s lineup for its spring opener this weekend.

Maddie Rose Hamilton (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) was playing some of her best golf to close out the fall season, tying for 19th place at the Landfall Tradition and capping the first part of her rookie campaign with a 74.64 stroke average, shooting 73 or lower in five of her final nine rounds.

Senior captain Talia Campbell (Dallas, Texas/Ursuline Academy) was one of Notre Dame’s most consistent players during the fall, posting four top-20 finishes and a 73.07 stroke average, including a school record-tying 66 in in the final round of a Fighting Irish win at Nebraska’s Chip-N Club Invitational.

Emma Albrecht (Ormond Beach, Fla./Father Lopez) placed in the top 25 in all five of her outings last fall, including three top-15 finishes. The Notre Dame rookie was third on the team with a 73.29 fall stroke average and shot 73 or lower in seven of final 13 rounds.

Isabella DiLisio (Hatfield, Pa./Mount Saint Joseph Academy) carried a team-best 72.71 stroke average during the fall with three top-10 finishes and a team-high five rounds at par or better, including a team-best three rounds in the 60s and a program record-tying 66 in the second round of the Chip-N Club Invitational, DiLisio’s fall season is made all the more impressive considering she was hampered by a back injury late in the campaign and a final-round 84 at the Landfall Tradition significantly skewed her stroke average.

Sophomore Kari Bellville (Granger, Ind./Penn) is coming off her best stretch of her career, having posted a 75.71 stroke average in the fall season with three finishes of 26th or better.

Junior Jordan Ferreira (University Place, Wash./Bellarmine Prep) will compete as Notre Dame’s individual participant this weekend at the Westbrook Spring Invitational. Like Bellville, Ferreira enjoyed a solid fall campaign with a 74.71 stroke average, highlighted by three top-25 finishes.

As the host institution for this weekend’s tournament, Wisconsin will provide live scoring of the Westbrook Spring Invitational through the BirdieFire web site (BirdieFire.com), with in-progress updates also provided through the Fighting Irish women’s golf Twitter feed (@NDwomensGolf).

For more information on the Notre Dame women’s golf program, visit the women’s golf page of the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (UND.com/ndwomensgolf), sign up to follow the Notre Dame women’s golf Twitter feed (@NDwomensGolf) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.

– ND –

Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s golf and women’s basketball programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).