Engler leads women’s golf again

Open fairways with a few trouble spots made the UW- Eau Claire women’s golf team feel right at home despite being on the road this weekend.

The Blugolds traveled to Waverly, Iowa, where they competed in the Wartburg Women’s Fall Invite. They played on the Centennial Oaks course, which head coach Meghan Sobotta said is very similar to the Blugolds’ home course, Wild Ridge.

The team finished sixth place overall out of the 15 teams present. Eau Claire finished with 664 strokes after two days of play.  Junior Kate Engler finished first for Blugolds and second overall with a two round total of 148 strokes, which left her just one stroke behind the overall champion for the weekend. For her play, she was named the WIAC women’s golfer of the week, according to league offices.

“She played very well,” Sobotta said of Engler. “She shot a 74, 74, which was her lowest two-day round of her career. I was very impressed by her mental game on the last day. She didn’t give up ever even with a few shots that were off course,”

Engler said she felt like she finally played the way she should be and is happy to see her scores getting lower.

Teammate Mandi Salo tied for 26th place after two rounds of play. Salo, though pleased with her consistency in recent tournaments, said she believes she has the ability to bring in lower scores than the 168 she shot this weekend.

Junior Emily Stone, who Sobotta said is consistently the Blugolds number two golfer, was unable to compete in this tournament due to an injury, which Sobotta said altered the game plan a bit. However, Sobotta was pleased with how the team handled it.

“For the issue we had, I was pleased because they all played hard,”  Sobotta said. “They didn’t get scared they just stepped up and played hard.”

This change also gave younger members of the team a chance to play.

“It was kind of a bummer not to have (Stone’s) score, but we had a number of underclassmen that really stepped up and brought in some good scores. It’s really exciting just to see how well they’re doing and how much they keep improving,” Salo said.

Sophomore Amanda Tilot was one of the underclassmen who competed.

“Tilot played last year at Wartburg so she knew the course,” Sobotta said.  “She shot an 84 that first day, which was helpful.”

As far as improving as a whole Sobotta said the team is focusing on building week to week.

“Every week, I watch the weekend and take some notes as to what we need to work on for the next week: mostly putting this week,” Sobotta said. “We struggled a little bit but those are things that we can fix with a lot of hard work and concentration, which the team does very well for me and that impresses me.”

As they make necessary improvements each week, the team is staying focused on the end goal, which is the conference tournament.

“Ultimately our goal is conference. All these other tournaments are kind of a dress rehearsal, they are big tournaments for us, but everything for us is leading up to conference,” Sobotta said.

The Blugolds will go to the Division III Midwest Classic next weekend in Lake City, Minn.