Minnesota Golf Association

Kellar Shines in Season Opener, but Gopher Women Place 14th at Minnesota Invitational

September 11, 2018

By Nick Hunter
  WOODBURY, Minn. – Posting a career-best finish Tuesday, Gopher golfer Grace Kellar carded a final-round 73 to finish tied for third at 2-under par 214, while the University of Minnesota women’s golf team continued to struggle collectively, moving up one place on the final day to finish 14th at the Minnesota Invitational at Prestwick Golf Club.
San Jose State University cruised to both team and individual titles Tuesday as the Spartans earned a wire-to-wire victory, bettering Virginia Tech by 12 strokes. The Spartans got an impressive performance from freshman Natasha Andrea Oon, who posted an opening round 67 Monday and followed it with back-to-back rounds of 70 to claim a six-stroke win.
Hoping to build on a ninth-place finish from a year ago, Minnesota was unable to get help from the middle of the lineup during the 54-hole championship, with four of five starters finishing no better than 55th.
“We didn’t get off to a very good start and we played a lot better in the afternoon yesterday,” Minnesota head coach Michele Redman said Tuesday. “We’ve got a young team and we’ve got to figure out who’s going to be in our lineup.
“Grace had a great tournament. She’s been working really hard this summer and I think that paid off. We’ll get there; we just need to figure out the right combination of kids. We had a couple freshmen—Karen Zheng had a good round and [Alayna Eldred] brought it back today, so she’s starting to feel comfortable.”
Since the tournament’s inception in 2013, the Gophers have notched a pair of top-5 finishes, but have placed no better than fourth since 2015.
Graduating one senior from last season, the Gophers will be without Sabrine Garrison, who was an important piece of the Gopher team as a four-year letter winner, playing in all but one tournament during her career and led the Gophers in scoring during her senior season a year ago. She wrapped up her collegiate career second in scoring average in school history (75.52)
Kellar quickly helped fill the void this week, opening the championship with a round of 1-over par 73 early Monday, but would get a big boost after firing a career-low 4-under 68 to finish first day of competition tied for third.
In breezy conditions Tuesday, the sophomore from Edina, Minn., would card a pair of bogeys and one birdie during her opening nine, while playing her final nine holes at even to finish the championship in third place, seven shots back.
“I had a lot of fun out there this week. I had a good summer and I’ve been practicing a lot,” Kellar said after leading the Gopher women all three rounds. “I had two goals coming in—one was to be under par and the other was to be top-10 and I was able to do both of those.
“Today the conditions were harder, but [coach Redman] walked with me and kept me grounded. She really helped me choose the right shots to hit. A couple more could’ve gone in today, but overall, I’m really happy.”
Kellar’s previous best came last October when she finished tied for 17th at the Louisville Ladies Fall Invitational. Her career-low round prior to Monday’s second round came a year ago during the opening round of the Minnesota Invite, where she posted a 1-under par 71 to begin her collegiate career.
“I hit a lot of bunkers but was saving myself most of the time. Yesterday I was in six greenside bunkers and today I was in two,” she said. “I’ve struggled putting coming in and I really worked on it the last couple of days and was putting better than I have been. It gave me a lot of confidence and I made a ton of birdies during the second round. I feel like I can press my putter a little more, which will free me up in more parts of my game.”
In only her second season as a Gopher, Kellar said she feels like she’s taken on a leadership role on a young Minnesota team.
“I know it’s hard coming in as a freshman, so I want to help them as much as I can. Last year our team did a really good job of everyone being leaders and that’s what I’d like to accomplish with our team again this year, too.”
Senior Muyu Wu carded a 12-over par 228 to finish tied for 55th, while teammate Christine Portillo finished tied for 63rd at 230, playing as an individual. Also playing individually, sophomore Jessica Lee and freshman Karen Zheng placed tied for 64th at 231.
The Gopher women jump right back into action Monday when they host one of the nation’s strongest fields, the ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M at The Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minn. This season’s field boasts nine of the top-10 teams in the country and 10 of the top-12. Maria Fassi and the University of Arkansas Razorbacks swept top honors last season when the championship was held at Olympic Hills Golf Club.
“That’s a really good field. We’ve got a lot of practice and a lot of work to do,” Redman said.
6,479 YARDS, PAR 72
1. San Jose State, 282-287-291—860
2. Virginia Tech, 283-290-299—872
3. Louisville, 292-290-291—873 
4. East Carolina, 288-282-304—874
5. Kentucky, 294-286-300—880
6. Middle Tennessee, 283-297-301—881
7. Notre Dame, 292-295-295—882
T8. Oklahoma, 290-298-295—883
T8. Kansas, 297-295-291—883
10. Missouri, 295-294-297—886
11. North Texas, 300-289-310—899
12. Rutgers, 297-300-303—900
13. San Francisco, 296-297-309—902
14. MINNESOTA, 308-294-306—908
15. South Dakota State, 298-300-311—909
1. Natasha Andrea On, SJSU, 67-70-70—207
2. Emily Mahar, Virginia Tech, 70-71-72—213
T3. Hanley Long, Middle Tennessee, 71-71-72—214
T3. Yi-Tsen Chou, Kansas, 76-70-68—214
T6. Lauren Hartlage, Louisville, 72-70-73—215
T6. Leonie Bettel, Kentucky, 72-72-71—215
8. Abegail Arevalo, SJSU, 69-74-74—216
T9. Lauren Cox, North Texas, 69-68-80—217
T9. Alexandra Cooper, SJSU, 69-74-74—217
T9. Carley Cox, ECU, 69-73-75—217
T9. Jessica Spicer, Virginia Tech, 70-71-76—217
T55. MUYU WU, MINNESOTA, 77-75-76—228
63. CHRISTINE PORTILLO, MINNESOTA, 77-77-76—230 (playing as individual)
T64. JESSICA LEE, MINNESOTA, 76-75-80—231 (playing as individual)
T64. KAREN ZHANG, MINNESOTA, 78-73-80—231 (playing as individual)  
T67. KATE LILLIE, MINNESOTA, 79-74-79—232
T76. JOANNE FREE, MINNESOTA, 79-78-78—235
T78. ALAYNA ELDRED, MINNESOTA, 80-82-74—236 (playing as individual)
For complete tournament results go to:  http://results.golfstat.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=16428


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