March 12, 2015
Notre Dame Clover Cup
Dates: March 13-15, 2015
Format: 54 holes (18 holes each day)
Tee Times: 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT each day (split-tee starts on Friday-Saturday; shotgun start on Sunday)
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Course (Par/Yardage): Longbow Golf Club (par 72/6,184 yards)
Tournament Field (current Golfstat ranking): Arizona State (26), Cincinnati (150), East Carolina (60), Florida International (59), Georgia State (171), Nebraska (92), New Mexico (123), Notre Dame (32), Oklahoma (68), Ole Miss (109), Sam Houston State (106), SMU (44), South Florida (69), TCU (66), Tulsa (96) and UNC Wilmington (115).
Notre Dame Lineup (2014-15 stroke average): Ashley Armstrong (73.47), Jordan Ferreira (73.73), Talia Campbell (73.27), Kelli Oride (75.13), Kari Bellville (75.87), Alison Snakard (85.33 – competing as individual participant), Janie Fineis (N/A – competing as individual participant).
Live Scoring: www.BirdieFire.com
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Golf isn’t a sport that lends itself to assists. Yet, if a statistician were following the University of Notre Dame women’s golf team earlier this week, chances are the Fighting Irish would have piled up assists by the bushelful.
Notre Dame is in Mesa, Arizona, preparing for the fourth annual Notre Dame Clover Cup, which tees off Friday morning at the Longbow Golf Club (par 72/6,184 yards). The Fighting Irish serve as the host school for the 16-team tournament, which is sponsored by Visit Mesa and began with a college/amateur exhibition round on Thursday afternoon.
Along with the plentiful practice sessions afforded by the University’s Spring Break period and pristine weather conditions in the Valley of the Sun, a major highlight for many of the Notre Dame players and staff during the week was a visit to Mesa’s Cardon Children’s Medical Center. The Fighting Irish took time to play games and enjoy various arts and crafts with patients in Cardon’s pediatric cancer ward, lending a helping hand and an uplifting message for the young boys and girls waging a battle far more important than any single round on a golf course.
“It was so rewarding to visit the hospital in Mesa and spend time with the young patients at the hospital,” senior captain Ashley Armstrong said. “It made me realize how fortunate I am to be at Notre Dame and to have my health. I hope we were able to put smiles on the children’s faces, despite the various treatments they have to face during the day.”
Those words have special meaning for Armstrong (Flossmoor, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) and sophomore Jordan Ferreira (University Place, Wash./Bellarmine Prep), who both are thankful to have their health after being at far less than 100 percent the last time Notre Dame stepped on the course in competition on Feb. 22-23 at the Westbrook Spring Invitational in nearby Peoria, Arizona.
Armstrong was stricken with a stomach virus the day before the tournament began, spending much of the hours leading up to the event in the emergency room and she battled fatigue and dehydration throughout the weekend. However, the veteran managed to play through the illness, and with tremendous support from her teammates, head coach Susan Holt and assistant coach Kyle Lynne Demeter, Armstrong tied for 10th place and matching her career-low score at 215 (-1).
“I think I played well because my mind was very distracted from my golf swing and final score,” Armstrong said. “I was focused on minimizing energy, and this meant hitting the fewest shots possible. Coach Kyle walked with me for all 54 holes and she was a great support system, keeping my mind off of golf in between shots, but also refocusing me when I would have a few bad swings.”
Meanwhile, Ferreira was diagnosed with bronchitis early in the week prior to the tournament before suffering an asthma attack before her opening round. Like her teammate, Ferreira didn’t succumb to her malady, charging to a tie for 12th place and also tying her career-low score at even-par 216.
“I was so proud of the way Jordan played at the last tournament,” Armstrong said. “She definitely demonstrated her mental toughness and her ability to focus despite feeling under the weather. She was constantly coughing and you knew she had trouble breathing. She played consistently during the 36-hole day, and then finished strong on the final 18.
“Jordan and I stayed with the same host family during that tournament,” Armstrong added. “They were so supportive and caring. They definitely did not sign up to have the two sick ones, but they did a great job taking care of us!”
As a team, Notre Dame tied for third place at Westbrook, carding a three-round total of 868 (+4) that was the fourth-lowest gross score and third-lowest mark with relation to par in school history. It was a solid start for the spring season for the Fighting Irish, but certainly not a result they are willing to settle for as they tee off in this weekend’s Clover Cup at Longbow.
“Westbrook exposed our weaknesses and what we needed to work on,” Armstrong said. “We’ve since focused on these elements and have had a few days in Arizona to work on them as well. Most of the team has played this golf course a few times, so we know what holes we need to come up with new strategies for, and we also know what holes we can birdie and take advantage of. Longbow is a course that will definitely reward you if you are hitting the ball well, and I believe we will play well as long as we stay committed to our plans and remain confident in our games.”
“We arrived in Mesa last Saturday and have been getting in great practice sessions each day so far,” head coach Susan Holt noted. “I’m really pleased with the golf I’ve seen from everyone this week. Our games are progressing nicely as we head into a stretch of three events in four weeks. It’s a busy time for us, but we’re excited for what lies ahead the remainder of the spring.
“The team is looking forward to compete on this golf course again this year” she added. “We have four of our top five who have played here in past years. Having that experience really helps, while patience and a good game plan are critical to playing well on this course. The knowledge our players have acquired over past years will help us be in good form come Friday’s first round.”
Notre Dame enters this weekend’s tournament at No. 32 in the latest Golfstat rankings, second-highest in the Clover Cup field behind only nearby Arizona State (No. 26). Five other teams are ranked in the top 75 by Golfstat this week, including three from the American Athletic Conference (SMU, East Carolina and South Florida) and two from the Big 12 Conference (TCU and Oklahoma).
The Fighting Irish finished as the runners-up at last year’s Clover Cup with a three-round score of 889 (+25), one shot back of tournament champion Louisville. Kristina Nhim (’14) became the first Notre Dame player in the tournament’s brief history to earn medalist honors, claiming the individual title at three-under par 213.
The Clover Cup is quickly developing a reputation as one of the top new events on the women’s college golf circuit, a distinction due in no small part to the cooperation and support provided by the staff at the Longbow Golf Club and Visit Mesa.
“We’re really looking forward to hosting the Clover Cup this weekend, and doing so for the fourth year in a row at the Longbow Golf Club,” Holt said. “The owner and professional staff at both Longbow and Visit Mesa have been great hosts and we’re blessed to have their support to put on a first-class collegiate event each year. We’re excited to welcome some great teams for what should be another fun and competitive tournament.”
Notre Dame will offer live scoring of the Clover Cup 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 (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