By John Manley
Arizona State’s Olivia Mehaffey came from four strokes behind entering the final round to force a playoff, which she won on the first extra hole, in the Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championship at Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, California. Mehaffey, a Belfast junior who plays out of Royal County Down, opened with rounds of 69 and 70, while main rival Albana Valenzuela of Stanford countered with 65 and 70. Mehaffey, the only player to break par in each of her three rounds, again shot 70 in the third and final round, while Valenzuela carded 74. The latter then bogeyed the 18th hole in the sudden-death playoff, while Mehaffey took par and the title. The Sun Devils were third in the team scramble, which saw Southern California come out on top.
Auburn’s Julie McCarthy was poised to run off with medal honors at the Southeastern Conference Championship at Greystone’s Legacy Course in Birmingham, Alabama. The sophomore from Swords, Co. Dublin threw a 4-under-par 68 at the field in the first round, but was hard-pressed to recapture that form over the next two rounds, which were played under windy conditions. She shot 77 and 78 to sink to joint-29th place, 13 strokes behind Arkansas’ Maria Fassi, the champion. Auburn shared fifth place among teams, with Florida earning the team crown.
Nobody broke par in the Big 12 Championship at the Golf Club of Oklahoma in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Chloe Weir, a Kansas State senior from Belfast, tied for eighth place, after firing rounds of 72, 78 and 77. That left her 11 strokes over par and nine behind Texas’ Agathe Laisne, who won the individual title. Kansas State’s Niamh McSherry, a sophomore from Lurgan, Co. Armagh, placed 43rd after rounds of 81, 82 and 82.
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Louisville’s Mairead Martin, a freshman from Kanturk, Co. Cork, got a share of 23rd place in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. She shot 73, 76 and 75 to finish eight strokes over par and 20 behind Wake Forest’s Emilia Migliaccio, the medalist. Louisville finished fifth among 12 teams, with Wake Forest leading the way.
Oisin Devereux led Iona to victory in the Sacred Heart Spring Invitational at Great River Country Club in Milford, Connecticut. The Dublin junior combined rounds of 72 and 73 to finish a stroke over par, which was good for third place, six strokes in back of medalist Nathan Kim of Sacred Heart, the host school. Devereux was low man for Iona, which copped the team title by a mere stroke over LIU (Brooklyn). When home, Devereux plays out of Carton House in Maynooth, Co. Kildare.
Ben Phipps of Luther College shared 12th place in the Nebraska Wesleyan Spring Invitational at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln, Nebraska. The freshman from Ardee, Co. Louth posted rounds of 74 and 77 to finish eight strokes over par and eight in back of medalist Grant Johnson of the host school. Luther took sixth place in the 11-team table. Ardee Golf Club is Phipps’ home club.
St. John’s senior Ross Moore took a share of 11th place in the Navy Invitational at the Naval Academy Golf Course in Annapolis, Maryland. The Dubliner, who was low man on his team, shot consecutive rounds of 74 to finish three strokes off the low number shared by three rivals. The Red Storm finished joint-fifth among teams.
Devin Morley was low man for Louisville and tied for 24th place overall in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship at Old North State Club in New London, Connecticut. The junior from Galway posted rounds of 70, 78 and 67 for an aggregate 215 that was a stroke under par for 54 holes and 12 behind Florida State’s John Pak, the medalist. Morley’s final round score was low for the day. Teammate John Murphy, a junior from Kinsale, Co. Cork, shot 218 (76-71-71) to finish joint-32nd. The Cardinals finished eighth among 12 teams, topped by Georgia Tech.
Montevallo’s Paul Murphy, a junior out of Rosslare, Co. Wexford, took a share of 19th place in the Gulf South Conference Championship at Magnolia Grove Crossings in Mobile, Alabama. Murphy, who hones his game back home at Rosslare Golf Club, shot rounds of 74, 76 and 78, which left him 12 strokes over par and 17 behind champion Zach Zediker of Delta State.
John Bolger of Young Harris College tied for 21st place in the Peach Belt Conference Championship at the World Golf Village’s Slammer and Squire Course in St. Augustine, Florida. Bolger, a junior from Gorey, Co. Wexford, improved over each of the three days, shooting 76, 75 and 73 to finish eight strokes over par and 15 in back of medalist Juan Itarra of Flagler. The Mountain Lions took second place among teams, 10 strokes behind champion Flagler.
Jack Hearn of McNeese State tied for 31st place in the Bayou City Collegiate Classic at Golfcrest Country Club in Houston. Hearn, a freshman from Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary, shot 73, 73 and 76, which put him six strokes over par and 11 behind Collin Clark of Texas-San Antonio, the medalist.
Rice University, featuring Anna Bowtell at fifth singles, mowed through their Conference USA rivals en route to the conference championship last weekend. The Owls began with a 4-0 takedown of Middle Tennessee State, as Bowtell, a sophomore from Delgany, Co. Wicklow, defeated Marta Peris Herrero, 6-0, 6-2. Next to go down was Florida Atlantic, 4-2, although Bowtell was extended to three sets to finish off Kristen Thoms, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Bowtell was ahead in her match on Sunday when a teammate clinched the match on another court for Rice, thus signaling the end of play. Bowtell and Victoria Smirnova also won all three of their matches at third doubles. Rice now moves on to NCAA play, which begins next weekend.
Illinois State hosted Northern Iowa and Drake on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, and sent both teams on their ways with 6-1 defeats. Laura Fitzgerald, a sophomore from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, aided the Redbirds cause with victories at fifth singles over Northern Iowa’s Caro Valentina, 6-0, 6-1, and Drake’s Kenya Williams, 6-0, 6-2. She also teamed with Jana Kustkova at second doubles for wins over Northern Iowa’s Valentina and Harri Proudfoot, 6-4, and Drake’s Williams and Liza Petushkova, 7-5.
“Jana and Laura have been invaluable at the number 2 doubles spot,” said Illinois State head coach Maya Kustkova. “Laura is 5-0 in [Missouri Valley Conference] singles play as well, and continues to impress me each week with how well she handles herself in close matches.”
Northwestern took down visiting Big Ten rivals Ohio State, 5-2, and Penn State, 4-2, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Wildcats’ Julie Byrne, a Dublin sophomore, played a role by taking out the Buckeyes’ Shiori Fukuda, 6-0, 6-4, and the Nittany Lions’ Olivia Rohrbacher, 6-1, 6-0. She also joined Hannah McColgan for wins at second doubles over Ohio State’s Danielle Wolf and Isabelle Boulais, 6-3, and Penn State’s Shannon Hanley and Samantha Smith, 6-4.
Presbyterian College got bounced from the Big South Conference Tournament in the first round by UNC-Asheville, 4-2. Jessica Leeman of the Blue Hose accounted for one of those two points with a win at fourth singles over Taylor Love, 6-1, 6-4. Leeman is a freshman from Belfast.
Utah State defeated visiting Boise State, 6-1, on Saturday, with Lucy Octave tallying at fourth singles, 6-2, 6-1, over Boise’s Wiktoria Nosek. Octave is a junior from Donaghadee, Co. Down.
Wisconsin’s Osgar O’Hoisin played his last matches in Madison last weekend with mixed results. On Friday, the senior from Dublin defeated Northwestern’s Dominik Stary, 7-6, 7-6, at first singles to clinch the match for the Badgers. Earlier, he and Jared Pratt were 6-3 winners in doubles action over Stary and Chris Ephron. Sunday saw Wisconsin lose, 4-3, to Illinois as Aleks Kovacevic defeated O’Hoisin, 6-3, 6-0.
Stetson’s Coilin MacNamara kept hopes alive for Stetson in their first-round Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament match with Kennesaw State. The Dublin senior closed out his collegiate career with a win at fifth singles over Gaston Muhammad, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6. That tightened the match, but Kennesaw then won on another court to salt a 4-2 victory and move on as the Hatters called it a season.
Montana’s Oisin Shaffrey won twice at fifth singles last week. In Thursday’s 4-3 loss at Montana State, the Dublin freshman handled Creel Smith, 6-4, 6-3, and joined Pontus Hallgren at third doubles for a 6-4 win over Grant Wood and C. Damgaard Qvist. The Grizzlies then returned home for a 6-1 win on Sunday over Southern Utah. Shaffrey took care of Juan Erro, 6-3, 6-3, and alongside Ed Pudney defeated Keonho Shin and Remus Cope, 6-2, at third doubles.
The University of Missouri branches at Kansas City and St. Louis settled things on the tennis court to K.C.’s satisfaction, 7-0. Neil O’Connor, a freshman from Dublin, posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory at fifth singles over Ignacio Tintore and joined Tom Kruse for a 6-4 win at third singles over John Paul McKenzie and Pavel Badaiants.
University of Wisconsin senior Osgar O’Hoisin is surrounded by family and friends who gathered to celebrate the end of his collegiate tennis career.