The Mississippi State University Women's Golf Team had a challenging first-round in paradise as they wrapped up their fall season at the White Sands Invitational in the Bahamas. The team as a whole shot 6-over-par and did not let the difficult course affect them. Brown-Lemm said the course was visually challenging.
“If you let all of that affect your chosen shot, then there will be penalties,” Brown-Lemm said. “The wind, which always blows 10-20 mph is nothing we haven’t competed and practiced in. Factor that in with bunkers, ocean inlets and the grain of Bermuda green, you have a real test.”
Sitting at eighth place after the first 18 holes, Brown-Lemm said the team worked on their mental process and fixing errant shots after the round. Freshman Ashley Gilliam was the only Bulldog to finish under par, shooting one stroke under par.
MSU did not fair much better during the second round as the Bulldogs shot 5-over-par to remain in eighth place on the leaderboard. There was growth, however, for Aubree Jones who catapulted 20 spots up the leaderboard with a 1-under-par round. Jones said it was a better round for her on the course as she had two birdies, a bogey and 15 pars.
“I didn't feel like I was grinding as hard,” Jones said. “I just tried to stay patient through the tough round yesterday and bounce back. Golf is a tough sport, and it will knock you off your feet really quick. It was a great feeling to bounce back like I did today.”
Leading MSU into the final round, Ashley Gilliam, a freshman from Nashville, Tennesee, continued to play excellent golf shooting 2-under-par. In the final round of the tournament, MSU was able to shoot 1-under-par as a team and come in 10th place at 10-over-par for the tournament.
Again, Gilliam was able to post her 10th par or better round, tying Jessica Peng who was a freshman at MSU from 2013-2014, for the freshman record. With her second 2-under-par round, Gilliam finished tied for sixth place at 5-under-par for the tournament.
“Overall, our freshman Ashley Gilliam has had a stellar season," said Brown-Lemm. "We need the four and five positions to pick up some shots, and we will be just where we need to be."
Gilliam was not the only Bulldog who had a strong finish. Jones climbed up the leaderboard, this time moving up 25 spots, finishing tied for 34th place with a 5-over-par score for the tournament after a two-under final round. Jones showed resilience in recovering from a first-round that had her at 8-over-par.
The Bulldogs will not step on to a tee box for collegiate competition as a team until Feb. 23 when they play in the Westbrook Spring Invitational in Peoria, Arizona. Brown-Lemm said they will continue to build off of their strong finish to the fall season.
“We finished up just a few shots out of a top-five finish in a top collegiate field," Brown-Lemm said. "We definitely played better today as a team and certainly were able to see some areas we will address for improvement in the offseason."