Lugar, Hibbert lead women’s golf to comeback win
Last weekend was a testament to how far the Washington University women’s golf team has come since its inception in 2008.
The alarm bells were ringing on Saturday evening as the Bears carded a 331 (+43) on the first day of the Doug Georgianni Memorial Invitational, leaving them in fifth place and seven strokes behind first place and No. 8 Gustavus Adolphus College.
“I think we were just disappointed because we know our potential,” junior Andi Hibbert said. “We don’t tolerate mediocrity, so we weren’t disheartened but rather intent on returning to the course with a desire to turn things around.”
And that is exactly what they did.
The Red and Green charged up the leader board with a 315 on day two to beat Gustavus Adolphus by two strokes and take first place in the tournament.
Sophomore Olivia Lugar followed up her 77 from the first round with a 78 in the second and was awarded the individual championship after a scorecard playoff. Kate Engler of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire also shot 155 across both days, but Lugar’s lower round two score gave her the tiebreaker.
“Considering how poorly I struck the ball, [I don’t feel] that bad [about my scores]. I did not hit into the greens very well at all. I was able to get up and down [the course] a lot, but it was also a very interesting tournament,” Lugar said. “It feels like I scraped by by the hairs of my chinny chin chin.”
Also key to the comeback was Hibbert, who shot a tournament-low 75 on day two thanks to what she called her “best nine ever” in the second round. On the heels of an 89 in the first round and 5-over on the front nine, the 3-under back nine proved vital to the turnaround.
“I have never lost my golf swing like I did on Saturday. I hit four balls out of bounds, I had three 3-putts, I had two provisional balls in addition to my out of bounds, I was just a mess. I really had lost all confidence in my game,” Hibbert said. “[On the back nine on Sunday], I just started to swing the club and trust more than anything, so once I birdied No. 12, I really felt an upswing in momentum, and I tried to capitalize that and kept going through the rest of the round and ended up birdying my last two holes to finish off with a 75.”
Freshman Connie Zhou burst onto the scene in her first collegiate meet with a two-day score of 160 (81, 79), and senior Hannah Buck added a 167 (84, 83) to round out the Bears’ scores.
As recently as two years ago, the Bears’ day one score of 331 would have been respectable for them; however, Wash. U. tasted success like none other last year. After averaging a 330.55 score in 2010-11, the 2011-12 team lowered that average to a blistering 313.00, carding three rounds below 300 and eight more below 310.
In its first season four years ago, the team shot just one round below 331, a 324 in October at the Maryville Fall Invitational, and averaged 351.67 per round. Since then, a certain standard of excellence has found its way into the Bears’ minds. Even 315 is considered too high.
Despite the tournament win, the women’s golf team does not plan to rest on its laurels.
“It is important to build up in the fall season, but to come out of the gates running, I think, is an awesome opportunity for us. I think the most important part is to remain humble,” Hibbert said. “Ultimately, our goal is nationals in the spring, so we have to keep our heads down and do what we need to do.”
The Red and Green knows it needs to score even lower to contend with the likes of No. 1 Methodist University, the 25-time and 15-time-defending national champion, at the NCAA Division III National Championships in May and at the O’Brien National Invitational on Sept. 16 and 17. Last September, Wash. U. opened play at the O’Brien with a 334 before shooting a tournament-best 305 to finish in third place overall.
“I’m planning on working really hard this week and next week for our next tournament with all the top national teams,” Lugar said. “I’m happy that what I was able to do was good enough, but at the same time, I know that sort of play is not going to hold up. That sort of play isn’t going to win us many more.”