OMAHA, Neb. – Sophomore Murphy Sears improved upon a career best by five strokes in a brilliant day in which the Nebraska spring finally felt like spring. Sears starred for a Concordia University women’s golf team that emerged from the winter break with a third-place finish at Thursday’s (April 5) CSM/Midland Spring Invitational at Miracle Hill in Omaha, Neb. The Bulldogs recorded a team score of 343.
Head coach Brett Muller’s squad finished with a season low total by nearly 30 strokes. Its third-place claim was its best of 2017-18. Concordia outshot GPAC rivals Doane (352), Midland (358), Dordt (362), Mount Marty (367), Dakota Wesleyan (367), Northwestern (382) and College of Saint Mary (387).
“Today was a great start to the spring season for the ladies,” Muller said. “It was good to play in nice weather again, something that we have not done much recently. Murphy played a complete round of golf today tee to green. Her putting was on and so was her driver. This was the dominate performance I knew she is capable of.”
A Crete, Neb., native, Sears carded a 78 at the same Miracle Hill course back in September. She shaved her score down to a one-over-par 73 on Thursday, allowing her to edge second place Taylor Minger (74) of Briar Cliff. Sears is a tournament champion for the first time in her career and now has three top-five tournament finishes to her credit in 2017-18.
The rest of the lineup also came through. Payton DeMers-Sahling placed 12th with a 12-over-par 84. The three through five spots were held down by Haley Nolde (93; T-37th), Madison Pitsch (93; T-37th) and Paighton Barbre (95; 48th). Gabrielle Coviello competed individually and carded a 97 (54th).
Said Muller, “It wasn’t just Murphy today, Payton’s 84 was a career low for her as well and to have the others in the low 90s really helped the team score. Overall, as a team we did a good job of staying away from the big numbers. This a great start to the spring season and we should gain confidence from today’s round. Next week we go to Wilderness Ridge, which is tough golf course and will be a good test.”
In four prior events with more than 10 teams in competition this season, Concordia had not placed higher than ninth. Its team average dropped down to 381.1 with the season best outing.
The Bulldogs will continue their season next Thursday (April 12) at the Kaitlyn Erickson Invite hosted by Doane. The event will take place at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club in Lincoln, Neb. The Erickson Invite will be one of three meets remaining prior to the spring conference championships.