Sept. 12, 2014
31st annual Mary Fossum Invitational
Dates: Sept. 13-14, 2014
Format: 54 holes (36 holes on Saturday, 18 holes on Sunday)
Tee Times: Shotgun starts both days (9 a.m. ET Saturday/8:30 a.m. ET Sunday)
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Course (Par/Yardage): Forest Akers West Golf Course (par 72/6,236 yards)
Tournament Field: Central Michigan, East Tennessee State, Eastern Michigan, Ferris State, Florida International, Grand Valley State, Houston, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oakland, Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan.
Notre Dame Lineup (2013-14 stroke average): Talia Campbell (75.84), Kelli Oride (77.65), Jordan Ferreira (76.19), Kari Bellville (freshman), Ashley Armstrong (75.59), Alison Snakard (freshman – competing as individual)
Live Scoring: www.BirdieFire.com
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — One could hardly blame Susan Holt if she traded in her coach’s cap for a chef’s hat this weekend. After all, the University of Notre Dame women’s golf coach is searching just the right recipe for success as her Fighting Irish open the 2014-15 season Saturday morning at Mary Fossum Invitational in East Lansing, Mich.
Notre Dame will be competing in Michigan State’s annual fall tournament for the sixth time in seven years, and the 20th time in the event’s 31-year history. In recent years, the Fighting Irish have used the tournament as their season opener, an early chance for Holt to get a feel for her players and how they will fit into the larger picture as the campaign progresses.
This weekend, Holt will bring six players to MSU, including four of the team’s top five scorers from last season. Senior captain Ashley Armstrong (Flossmoor, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) carded a team-best 75.59 stroke average in 2013-14, while sophomore Jordan Ferreira (University Place, Wash./Bellarmine Prep) was close behind at 75.61 and is coming off a eventful summer highlighted by her participation at the U.S. Women’s Open and a four-shot win at the Washington State Women’s Amateur Championship.
Junior Talia Campbell (Dallas, Texas/Ursuline Academy), the 2013 BIG EAST Conference co-medalist, earned the No. 1 spot in the lineup this week based on team qualifying, edging out another veteran in senior Kelli Oride (Lihue, Hawaii/Kauai) for top honors. Rounding out the Fighting Irish contingent will be a pair of freshmen, as Kari Bellville (Granger, Ind./Penn) and Alison Snakard (Collegeville, Pa./Mount Saint Joseph Academy) make their college debuts, the latter playing as an individual competitor.
“I look for Talia to have a good showing this weekend,” Holt said. “Her overall game is really solid right now and she played well in our qualifier at the Warren (Golf Course at Notre Dame).
“For us to contend this weekend, it needs to be a team effort every round,” Holt added. “We need to get four scores at 75 or better each round. If we do that, I like our chances.”
Notre Dame has enjoyed a great deal of success at the Mary Fossum Invitational of late, winning the 2010 tournament title and finishing among the top three teams in four of their previous six appearances dating back to 2008.
“The Forest Akers Golf Course at Michigan State is one of my all-time favorite college campus courses,” Holt said. “It is always in excellent playing condition, and it’s a demanding golf course that requires good shot-making, while putting a premium on course management. Coincidentally, I think those are two things our players are very good at and, if we execute and play like we are capable of, I think we have a great opportunity to pick up a win. Everyone (in the lineup) has played this course before, which should allow our players to feel comfortable and know what to expect.”
One Fighting Irish player who should be particularly at ease this weekend is Armstrong, a two-time Capital One Academic All-America selection who tied for second at last year’s Mary Fossum Invitational after closing strong to card a four-over par 220 (76-75-69). Armstrong also tied for 12th place at the 2012 Mary Fossum Invitational on the strength of an eight-over par 224 (74-72-78).
“We’ve done well at this tournament the last two years, finishing third both times and we’d like to build on that this weekend,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to face some challenges like the rain early on Saturday and it being our first tournament of the year, but we can’t and we won’t make excuses. The other teams in the tournament are in the same boat, and it’s up to us as a team to stay focused, stay positive and go out there and execute. If we do that, we’re going to put ourselves in a very good position to contend for the win on Sunday.”
“Ashley loves the Forest Akers course and has had great success there the past few years,” Holt said. “She is a very meticulous and calculating player and can get her ball around this course very efficiently. She is an excellent ball-striker, which helps her navigate the challenging layout of the course. She also loves the challenge of playing the course and really gets motivated to play well on it.”
While this weekend will mark Notre Dame’s first official tournament of the 2014-15 season, the Fighting Irish got an early taste of competition last month during an eight-day tour of Ireland that included rounds at three of the top 65 courses in the world, according to Golf Digest — Ballybunion (No. 27), Waterville (No. 34) and Lahinch (No. 64). It’s that experience that Holt believes will pay dividends as the Fighting Irish navigate through the early portion of this season.
“Our Ireland trip was a great way to get a jump on the season,” the ninth-year Fighting Irish head coach said. “Talia did a study abroad program, and Kelli and Ashley did internships this summer and did not get to play any competitive golf, so it was an opportunity for them to get back in the routine of playing and practicing every day.
“The biggest takeaway from Ireland for everyone was that any course we play this year will be easier than anything they saw there,” Holt added. “The conditions we played in with lots of strong winds should have our players ready, should we get those conditions at any point this season.”
Michigan State will offer live scoring of this weekend’s Mary Fossum Invitational through the BirdieFire web site (www.BirdieFire.com), while daily recaps on Notre Dame’s progress will be posted on the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (www.UND.com).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s golf program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s golf Twitter pages (@NDsidMasters or @NDwomensGolf) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director