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Women's Golf Opens Spring Season at Hilton Head Lakes

abby papke walks on the green

HARDEESVILLE, S.C. - The Bridgewater College women's golf team opened the spring portion of their 2017-18 season at Hilton Head Lakes (Hardeesville, S.C.) on Monday.

The Eagles stared down some early-season challenges and setbacks to score one shot better than their team average. The team score of 329 put the Eagles in fifth place among eleven D-II and D-III teams in the Hilton Head Lakes Invite, hosted by Pfeiffer University.

Freshman Abby Papke, from Prineville Oregon, did not necessarily expect to find herself in the starting lineup her freshman year, let alone in a position to post a guaranteed score for her new team; but the Eagles are missing three players from their fall roster and Papke was thrust into the fourth spot. The team would have to start the season counting the scores of the only four players they currently have available. Papke came through for her team though, posting an 89 that is an astounding 12 shots better than her scoring average.

"This was big for Abby and for the team," said head coach John Rogers. "For her to be put in this position could have been too much pressure, but we worked on a strategy of managing the course to play bogey golf, and she went after it with a great attitude. We are currently missing several talented and experienced players, but we still shot our team average, and that was due to the way Abby stepped up."

Senior Christina Herbert, currently leading the nation in scoring, faced her own challenges coming into the spring season. Having not competed since October, Herbert has struggled with her pre-season ball-striking, but on Monday she also managed the course and her own shot patterns very well, and she finished with an even-par score of 72. After a birdie on the 10th hole (her fifth hole after a shotgun start), Herbert was two under par and she held on for a level-par round that has her tied for second among 49 players. Herbert finished the day with four birdies, and Coach Rogers attributed the strong score to Herbert's maturity and mental strength.

Junior Amanda Kelley held the Eagles up with her season-opening score of 80, four shots better than her average. Kelley started to shake off her offseason rust in the Sunday practice round, and played a steady round on Monday that had only one score higher than a bogey. "Amanda might be the most underrated player in our conference," noted Rogers. "She is top-10 in the ODAC in scoring, but she quietly goes about her business. Now as a junior, her leadership is crucial to this team, and she sure showed up today."

Sophomore Jesse Bartley posted an 88 for the Eagles, with a birdie on the challenging par-3 13th hole.

After the first round the Eagles are in fifth place, but there are four D-II schools and one junior college in the field. Among D-III teams the Eagles trail only Randolph Macon, who shot 327. Stevenson University trails Bridgewater by one shot. Anderson University leads overall after a team score of 295. Herbert trails Meghan Holbrook of Pfeiffer University by two shots in the individual race.

The second and final round of the Hilton Head Lakes Invite is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday.