A second-place finish at the WIAC women’s golf championship tournament resulted in hardware, but when the defending conference champion UW-Eau Claire women’s golf team left the championship tournament last weekend with silver instead of gold, and it also went home without an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament .
The course was challenging and the weather did not make playing conditions any easier, head coach Mike Greer said regarding the obstacles came in the team’s way en route to its runner-up finish.
The first-year women’s head coach said he had to hand it the UW-Stout for the way it played. The Blue Devils shot a 966 to capture the 2014 crown.
What impressed Greer about the way Stout played was the fact Eau Claire shot only one over the score recorded last year, which won them the conference championship.
Despite the team falling short of retaining the conference title, senior Kate Engler successfully defended her individual WIAC championship by shooting a 234.
Engler is only the third individual in WIAC history to win back-to-back titles, and Greer said her final four holes were quite memorable.
“It was an absolute blast watching her finish out that golf tournament,” he said. “Her focus and her mission was on one thing, and it was taking home the title again.”
Maybe her determination came because she was competing in her last conference championship, or she was chasing history. Whatever the reason, Engler said she has never battled harder for a win.
Engler, who said she is often her own toughest critic, said early struggles on the front nine put her in danger of losing her WIAC championship.
“I had three holes where I three-putted, which sucks because it is a stupid mistake and never should happen,” Engler said.
Engler battled Stout’s Brit McNett-Emmerich in what Greer called a neck-to-neck final four holes to decide the WIAC champion.
On the 15th hole, Engler escaped with the “best bogie of her life” after hitting into a fairway bunker, overshooting the green and sinking an eight-foot putt, which even surprised her.
“I hadn’t been putting well all season,” she said. “So I don’t really know what happen.”
Her ability to hole difficult putts propelled her to a first place finish. Engler said she is very proud of the accomplishment, but she is equally proud of the way her team came together this weekend and grew closer as a unit.
The Blugolds will not be in action again until the spring, and this upcoming offseason will only be the second time in Engler’s career that she will have to wait until May to find out if her team will be competing in the NCAA championships.
Greer said it is his job as a coach to build a competitive spring schedule to convince the selection committee they are worthy of a bid to the national tournament.
“We are going to reflect on the things we did well,” Greer said. “And learn as a group the things we need to improve on in the spring.”