Sept. 13, 2015
EAST LANSING, Mich. — As it turned out, the best motivation for the University of Notre Dame women’s golf team at its season-opening tournament was simply a little white ball — a ping-pong ball.
Spurred by a promise from their coaches that a victory would mean a new ping-pong table for the team’s practice facility, the Fighting Irish pulled away down the stretch to win the Mary Fossum Invitational for the second consecutive season and third time overall, posting a 14-stroke win over host Michigan State University in the 12-team event that wrapped up Sunday afternoon at the Forest Akers West Golf Course (par 72/6,236 yards) in East Lansing, Michigan.
Notre Dame registered a three-round total of 23-over par 887 (297-292-298), matching the 15th-lowest tournament score in program history and its lowest in 21 appearances at Michigan State’s tournament. The Fighting Irish also became just the second visiting team and first non-Michigan State squad in 35 years to win back-to-back Fossum Invitational crowns (Ohio State University was the only other to do so, pulling off that feat in 1979 and 1980).
“Our players did a great job,” Notre Dame head coach Susan Holt said. “It was a rough start out of the gate, playing some of the difficult holes early and we didn’t do very well. Fortunately, we’ve always played the back nine of this course really well and that proved to be the case today. We’ve got a young team in some aspects, they got roughed up early, but they hung in there and it was a great win.
“The girls have a way of trying to negotiate deals with us,” Holt added with a laugh. “This tournament, it so happened to be they wanted a ping-pong table. So we will be buying a ping-pong table and I’m more than happy to do it.”
All six Notre Dame golfers (five in the lineup and one individual competitor) finished among the top 15 in the 70-player field. Senior captain Talia Campbell (Dallas, Texas/Ursuline Academy) led the Fighting Irish charge with a tie for second place at two-over par 218 (74-72-72). It was Campbell’s fourth career top-five finish and her best since she shared medalist honors at the 2013 BIG EAST Conference Championship.
Campbell’s performance was noteworthy considering she had not played a competitive round since last spring’s NCAA South Bend Regional, having spent the summer completing an internship with Wall Street firm Credit Suisse in New York City.
“That’s a testament to the talent that Talia is,” Holt said. “She’s just steady. She worked really hard on her game the last month to get her game back. She loves this golf course and is so excited to come up here every year. I’m just really pleased that she was able to get away and get out of here with some really good scores.”
“The wind was blowing and I’m from Texas, so that was a huge advantage for me,” Campbell said. “I don’t think we could have started the season in a better way. It’s a great way to get some momentum going into the more difficult half of our season, and I think we’re going to be able to keep it up throughout the fall and even into the spring.”
Freshman Isabella DiLisio (Hatfield, Pa./Mount Saint Joseph Academy) successfully battled through some early troubles on Sunday, closing with three birdies to finish in a fifth-place tie at five-over par 221 (73-74-74).
Fellow rookie Emma Albrecht (Ormond Beach, Fla./Father Lopez) competed as an individual this weekend and made the most of her college debut with two strong final rounds to tie for ninth place at nine-over par 225 (80-72-73). Albrecht also shared top honors among players who participated as individuals at the Mary Fossum Invitational, along with Tulane’s Silvia Garces, who finished in the top 10 on the individual ladder at last year’s NCAA Championships.
Junior Jordan Ferreira (University Place, Wash./Bellarmine Prep) was on the brink of joining her teammates in the top 10 before a late triple bogey dropped her into a tie for 11th place at 10-over par 226 (75-72-79). Freshman Maddie Rose Hamilton (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) also finished in 11th place at 10-over par 226 (75-74-77) in her college debut.
Sophomore Kari Bellville (Granger, Ind./Penn) posted the best finish of her college career, and her first top-20 showing, ending up in a 15th-place tie at 12-over par 228 (79-74-75). Bellville was particularly strong on Sunday’s front side, carding three birdies in her first five holes to steady Notre Dame’s team effort when the Fighting Irish saw their overnight lead beginning to dwindle.
“We had some great numbers from (our freshmen),” Holt said. “That’s why I like coming to this tournament. It’s a great golf course, and it’s just a good event to get them acclimated and used to what college golf is all about. I think they have transitioned very well and we’re just excited for the rest of the fall.”
Notre Dame won’t have much time to savor its tournament title as the Fighting Irish head to Norman, Oklahoma, next weekend for the Schooner Fall Classic. The three-round event, which will be hosted by the University of Oklahoma at the Belmar Golf Club, will begin on Saturday and continue with single rounds through Sept. 21.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s golf program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish 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.
Mary Fossum Invitational
Sept. 12-13, 2015
Forest Akers West Golf Course (par 72/6,236 yards)
East Lansing, Michigan
FINAL TEAM SCORES (54-hole totals): 1. NOTRE DAME 887 (297-292-298); 2. Michigan State 901 (300-297-304); 3. Toledo 902 (311-294-297); 4. Tulane 909 (301-292-316); 5. Western Michigan 920 (311-303-306); 6. Eastern Michigan 939 (311-311-317); 7. Grand Valley State 940 (318-309-313); 8. Akron 944 (314-306-324); 9. Ohio University 946 (316-318-312); 10. Oakland 957 (315-315-327); 11. Ferris State 985 (320-328-337); 12. Central Michigan 1010 (332-335-343).
TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS PLUS NOTRE DAME GOLFERS (of 70): 1. Sathika Ruenreong (UT) 216 (75-69-72); 2. Talia Campbell (ND) 218 (74-72-72); 3. (tie) Sarah Burnham (MSU) 219 (66-75-78) and Emily Penttila (TUL) 219 (71-70-78); 5. (tie) Isabella DiLisio (ND) 221 (73-74-74), Katie Sharp (MSU) 221 (75-74-72) and Gabrielle Shipley (GVSU) 221 (73-74-74); 8. Manisa Isavas (UT) 224 (78-74-72); 9. (tie) Emma Albrecht (ND)* 225 (80-72-73) and Silvia Garces (TUL)* 225 (74-72-79); 11. (tie) Jordan Ferreira (ND) 226 (75-72-79) and Maddie Rose Hamilton (ND) 226 (75-74-77); 15. (tie) Kari Bellville (ND) 228 (79-74-75).
* – competing as individual participant
— Chris Masters, Athletics Communications Associate Director