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Women’s Golf: Buckeyes face setback, finish 13th at UCF Challenge

The Lantern
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Ohio State woman golfer Aneka Seumanutafa golfing at the White Sands Invitational, which ran from Oct. 28-30, 2020. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

After a successful start to the season, the Ohio State women’s golf team hoped for another strong performance in its second spring tournament.

They struggled, however, failing to convert on a deceptively simple part of the game — putting. The Buckeyes placed 13th out of 18 teams at the UCF Challenge in Orlando, Florida, Sunday through Tuesday.

The finish came just a week after Ohio State placed third at Big Ten Match Play in Palm Beach, Florida.

Despite having the most pars of any team, the Buckeyes fell short when converting birdies, finishing second-worst with just 29. Head coach Lisa Strom said although the team could reach the green, they struggled to finish in the short game.

“Our ball striking is very much on track of where we need to be,” Strom said. “Our putting conversions for birdie are not right now, so that will be a huge area of focus as we continue throughout the spring.”

After their first spring tournament, Strom said the team stayed in Florida for the week to take advantage of the warm weather and prepare for the UCF Challenge.

Ohio State fell behind in the first round Sunday, finishing 13th and shooting three strokes over par for a score of 291 — 15 strokes behind the leading Kentucky Wildcats.

Despite the team’s struggles, one bright spot came in the form of junior Lauren Peter. Peter finished 2-under-par on the tournament, which is her best in both the fall and spring seasons so far.

Peter said it was her time preparing in Florida the week before that helped her reach greens, especially in the first round.

“I actually hit 18 greens the first day, which is really good,” Peter said. “I definitely think it helped being down there in between the tournament.”

In the second round, the Buckeyes improved by four strokes to reach 12th in the tournament. The third round began Monday afternoon but was halted due to darkness and completed Tuesday morning.

The final round saw the Buckeyes regress again, shooting 289 for an overall tournament score of 3-over-par. Their finish was a full 48 strokes behind the tournament’s winner, Wake Forest.

Ohio State’s next tournament is the Westbrook Invitational at the Westbrook Village Golf Club in Peoria, Arizona, Feb. 27-28. The Buckeyes last played in this tournament in 2020, finishing eighth at 4-under-par.

Strom said due to winter weather conditions, the team will likely be unable to practice outdoors in the three weeks until its next outing. However, she said this will only fuel its pursuit to improve.

“We don’t think we’ll go outside until we go to Westbrook, but we try to spin the narrative,” Strom said. “What a great opportunity to bounce back and prove to ourselves.”

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