(Photo courtesy MSUB Athletics)

Evan O’Kelly, MSUB Athletics

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Posting a top-10 team finish in its final regular-season tournament of the spring, the Montana State University Billings women’s golf team shot a 317 on Tuesday at Palm Valley Golf Club to tie for ninth place at the Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational.

The Yellowjackets finished the two-round event at the par-72, 5,900-yard course with a total score of 620, after shooting a team-season best round of 303 on Monday in the opener. “Overall this was a good tournament for us, and the pins were much more difficult today than they were Monday,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “To finish in the top-10 with this strong field of 20 teams is very respectable. I am proud of our players for battling hard.”

MSUB was led by sophomore Kortney McNeil, who finished in a tie for 25th place with back-to-back rounds of 75 for a 150 total. McNeil carded a pair of birdies on Tuesday, saving a stroke on the par-3, 135-yard seventh hole and also on the par-4, 380-yard 12th hole. McNeil was just one stroke off her personal season best of 74 in each of her rounds. “Kortney had an outstanding tournament, and she played solid again today,” Woodin said. “She hung in late in her round, and was able to get up-and-down a few times to keep her momentum going. The key was that she avoided the big number, and to play 18 holes without a double bogey was very efficient golf.”

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Junior Bailee Dexter finished in a tie for 33rd place, completing the two-round tournament with a total of 153 (74-79). Dexter added one birdie to her final scorecard on Tuesday, taking advantage of the par-3, 140-yard third hole.

Sammy Walter was close behind her fellow classmate, finishing in a tie for 40th place by shooting a two-round score of 155 (76-79). Though Walter did not have a birdie on Tuesday, she carded no worse than a bogey as she fought well to keep her scores low.

Shealyn Hafer finished in a tie for 78th place, after shooting an 86 on Tuesday and finishing with a total score of 164. Senior Haley Shackelford was just two strokes behind, in a tie for 83rd place with a two-round total of 166 (82-84).

California Baptist University won the team title, finishing seven strokes ahead of second-place West Texas A&M University with a two-round total of 577 (291-286). Johany Rivera of St. Edward’s University won the medalist honors with consistent play between rounds, as she turned in a 3-under-par 141 (71-70) at the event.

Fellow Great Northwest Athletic Conference schools Western Washington, Saint Martin’s, and Concordia all competed in the event. The Vikings finished in fifth place with a 597 (297-300), the Cavaliers took seventh with a 616 (308-308), and the Saints wound up in 16th place with a total of 630 (320-310).

“We are looking forward to the GNAC Championships in two weeks,” said Woodin. “We have a few things to work on and tighten up before then, but we feel we will be peaking at the right time.”

THE BUZZ: McNeil was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day for MSUB.

NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets will next compete at the 2017 GNAC Championships, hosted by the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The two-round women’s tournament is scheduled to run April 24-25.

Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational
Palm Valley Golf Club | Goodyear, Arizona
Final Results | April 11, 2017

Team – 1. Cal Baptist, 577 (291-286); T9. MSU Billings, 620 (303-317). Individual – 1. Johany Rivera, St. Edward’s, 141 (71-70); T25. Kortney McNeil, MSUB, 150 (75-75); T33. Bailee Dexter, MSUB, 153 (74-79); T40. Sammy Walter, MSUB, 155 (76-79); T78. Shealyn Hafer, MSUB, 164 (78-86); T83. Haley Shackelford, MSUB, 166 (82-84).