(MSUB Athletics release)
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Consistent play from Montana State University Billings women’s golfers Bailee Dexter and Sarah Schroefel was the highlight of the opening round of the Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational on Monday afternoon at Palm Valley Golf Club.
Dexter led the Yellowjackets with a 76 in the opening round on the par-71, 5,900-yard course layout. As a team, MSUB finished with a score of 317 and is in 17th place among the field of 20 competitors.
“The weather was great, and overall our score was acceptable today,” commented MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “I feel that tomorrow we can shave off quite a few shots. We struggled with lag putting, and our up and down putting isn’t what it needs to be. A major part of that is our lack of practice outside on greens, but I look for that to improve by tomorrow.”
Dexter, who sits in a tie for 42nd place with one round left to play, ended her strong day with seven straight pars and had nothing worse than a bogey on her scorecard. Dexter was particularly strong on the par-5 holes, although she appeared to be in trouble on the par-5 505-yard second hole with an errant, pulled shot off the tee box. After punching out of trouble into the fairway, Dexter crushed a 180-yard, 5-hybrid shot that settled three feet from the cup. The tap-in putt went down as her lone birdie on the day, and overall she was 1-under-par on the four longest holes.
Dexter’s pinpoint accuracy continued on the very next hole, as her tee shot on the 140-yard par-3 third was tracking towards the pin. She settled for par after just missing an eight-foot birdie putt, and made par again on the par-3 seventh hole to keep her score even on the four par-3 holes. Overall in the round, Dexter hit 13 greens in regulation and made 11-of-14 fairways off the tees.
“Bailee was very consistent as always, and she hit a lot of fairways and greens today,” said Woodin. “To play a round without any doubles or worse is very impressive, and her ball striking was very good today.”
Close behind Dexter was junior Sarah Schroefel, who chipped in a score of 78 which was one off her personal season-best this year. Like her senior teammate, Schroefel was locked in on the par-5 holes as she played them at 2-under-par including both of her birdies on the day. Her first birdie came on the par-5, 455-yard fifth hole, as she wedged a 60-yard shot to eight feet and sank the putt.
“Sarah played a great round, staying very consistent and keeping the ball in play,” commented Woodin. “She putted well, especially inside five feet when I was watching today.”
Schroefel’s one setback on the day came on the par-3 seventh hole, where a sand bunker ate up her score as she emerged with a seven. Schroefel shook off the high number quickly however, following immediately with three straight pars and a birdie. The latter came on the par-5, 425-yard 11th hole, where she set up a chance at eagle by reaching the green in two strokes. Her 20-foot attempt narrowly missed, and she edged her score lower with a tap-in birdie.
“One of Sarah’s main strengths is her mental toughness, and she doesn’t get down on herself,” Woodin said regarding the junior’s ability to shake off the quad-bogey. “She responded incredibly well, and that just shows the kind of attitude you need to have out here.”
Schroefel hit eight greens in regulation, and was highly efficient on them with only 31 putts and just one 3-putt on the day. She also hit 10 of 14 fairways, as she relied on solid accuracy with her long clubs.
Senior Sammy Walter had a thrilling start to her round, as she saved a stroke with a birdie on the 160-yard par-3 13th hole. After her tee shot landed just off the green, Walter made her second shot count as she chipped in. She finished the day with nine pars and just one score above bogey, completing Round 1 with an 81.
Junior Shealyn Hafer wrapped up one stroke behind Walter, as she checked in with an 82 on Monday. Hafer finished strong, with five pars in her final seven holes, and had 11 total pars on the day.
Also competing for the ‘Jackets was freshman Renae Heisler, who shot a score of 98 in her first round of the tournament.
Leading the team race is Dallas Baptist University, which shot a team score of 282 on Monday. DBU has three players in the top-five, including individual leader Evelyn Arguelles who shot a 4-under-par 68 on Monday.
Also competing from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference are Concordia University (T8, 299), Western Washington University (13, 309), and Saint Martin’s University (15, 311).
THE BUZZ: Schroefel was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…the junior will be eyeing to better her personal-best of 77, which she reached on Sept. 25 at the WNMU Invite at Golf Club of Estrella…Monday marked Dexter’s fourth straight sub-80 round, as she has shot in the 70s for each round of her spring season so far.
AHEAD: The tournament concludes on Tuesday, with the second and final round set to start at 7:30 a.m. Live scoring throughout Round 2 will be available online through Golf Stat here.
Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational
Round 1 Results | April 9, 2018
Palm Valley Golf Club | Goodyear, AZ
Team – 1. Dallas Baptist, 282; 17. MSU Billings, 317. Individual – 1. Evelyn Arguelles, DBU, 68; T42. Bailee Dexter, MSUB, 76; T54. Sarah Schroefel, MSUB, 78; T79. Sammy Walter, MSUB, 81; T86. Shealyn Hafer, MSUB, 82; 102. Renae Heisler, MSUB, 98.