There was no lack of excitement during the first women’s golf tournament of the semester. The Racers were led by junior Abbi Stamper into a sudden death playoff, eventually won by Southern Illinois, at the Jan Weaver MSU Invitational at Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, Ky., on Tuesday.
Stamper, who co-medaled with Lipscomb’s Samantha Griffith., carded a score of 218 over the three rounds, becoming the second Racer in program history to medal at Drake Creek. Stamper joined the ranks with Delaney Howson’s performance last year.
“I was very happy for Abbi,” Head Coach Velvet Milkman said. “She’s worked extremely hard, and to win a college tournament is very difficult – not many people win college tournaments. She needs a little more confidence in herself, and I think this was a good way to build it up.”
After an NCAA tournament run last season led by senior Howson, the team is not looking to replace her, but rather to grow as a unit.
“Good teams don’t rebuild, they just keep moving on,” Milkman said. “We can’t rely on one person to step up and fill that void. Everybody’s got to get better. It’s a team effort and you know, we have to be better than we were last year. And we can do that – yes, absolutely – but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.”
In Milkman’s 22 seasons coaching at Murray State, the playoff at Drake Creek was the first time her team has entered extra golf. It also marked the longest team playoff in course history and the first for this event. Beginning on the par-4 18th hole and continuing on three straight par-4 holes, No. 10, 11 and 12 decided the fate of the tournament on a par putt by SIU’s Mattie Lindner.
“It was really exciting,” Milkman said. “Obviously it’s something that doesn’t happen a lot. It may never happen again in their college career, so to be a part of that was exciting. They handled the play very well.”
The playoff team included Stamper, freshmen Moa Folke, Anna Moore and Summer Simmons, and sophomore Leah Judd. Folke carded rounds of 75-75-71 to total 221 for a fourth place finish, accompanying Stamper on the all-tournament team.
The Racers navy team also participated in the event, taking fifth place behind Western Kentucky and the University of the Cumberlands. This team included sophomores Sydney Trimble and Jacklyn Van Meter, who placed ninth and 12th, respectively, in addition to junior Sophie Hillier, sophomore Minta Yin and senior Gina Nuzzo.
Belmont, Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay State, SIU-Edwardsville, Northern Kentucky and Tennessee State rounded out the field of 12 teams, and provided the Racers with a preview of conference competition.
The Racers tee off next Monday at the University of Louisville’s Cardinal Cup at the Cardinal Club in Simpsonville, Ky. As they prepare for the tournament with a short turnaround time, Milkman said that the team will be working on their short game, specifically low putts, in order to help them adjust to Louisville’s greens.
Milkman said: “I’m really excited about this season. I think we’re deeper than we’ve ever been. The talent is there. We still have to get better – there’s no doubt about that – but this is the best thing that could have happened to us to start the season on a positive note.”
Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor