Women’s golf clinches HL title, NCAA berth

Behind the play of junior Michele Nash, the Butler women’s golf team claimed its fifth Horizon League Championship in the last seven years.

A three-day event ending Sunday, the league tournament was played at the Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort in Florida.

Nash, who shot a 233 and was named the 2011 Horizon League Women’s Golfer of the Year, captured medalist honors, defeating Youngstown State junior and 2009 champion Samantha Formeck by two strokes.

“We made it our goal to win conference on the very first day of the season, and I just tried to do my part to help the team,” Nash said.

The team title was Butler’s first since 2008 and Nash’s individual title was Butler’s first since Paige McCracken won it in 2007.

While Nash’s performance was the most eye-catching, it wasn’t Butler’s only strong showing.

Senior Molly Fields finished her Horizon League career with a three-round score of 244, good for seventh place in the final standings.

Junior Clare Cornelius finished her weekend with a 246 and a ninth-place finish.

Senior Marcella Moreman shot a 252 over the three rounds and finished 15th.

Sophomore Julia Porter, Butler’s fifth player, shot a 272 over the three rounds and placed 30th in the final standings.

“It was frustrating to underperform in the biggest tournament of my college career, so I’m excited to get another shot,” Porter said.

Nash led the tournament in total pars with 38 and scoring on par-3 holes, where she averaged an even three shots.

“Michele played a great second round, and that’s really what carried her,” head coach and Horizon League Coach of the Year Bill Mattingly said. “We’re excited to get up to South Bend, [Ind.]”

She also led the tournament in par-4 scoring, where she averaged 4.33 shots per hole.

Nash was also named to the All-League team and the All-Tournament team, both for the second consecutive season.

“All of Michele’s honors are well deserved,” Mattingly said. “As far as being Coach of the Year, I’m going to have to give that one to the girls, they’ve been great this season.”

Fields joined Nash on the All-Tournament team.

Porter’s count of five birdies was good enough to put her in a tie for fifth.

The women got off to a slow start, shooting a team score of 333 in the first round and trailing Detroit and Loyola.

“We were a little unhappy with where we were after the first round,” Nash said. “But, we also knew that we could play a lot better.”

The Bulldogs came back in the second round, shooting 317 collectively. Their 325 in the third round was just enough to keep defending champion Detroit at bay.

Their three-round score was 975, compared to Detroit’s 983 and Loyola’s 1,000.

The women will begin their first ever NCAA tournament campaign in South Bend, Ind., at the Warren Golf Course, May 5 to 7.

Butler was selected by the Division I Women’s Golf Committee to play in the Central Regional with teams like UCLA, Duke, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and 18 others.

“We’re definitely happy to be in the tournament, but we want to go and make a name for ourselves,” Nash said. “It’s time to get to work; we aren’t satisfied yet.”

From the Central Regional, eight teams and two individuals will advance to the championship finals at the Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas. The championship finals will take place May 18 to 21.

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