Lady Toppers begin spring season with top-five finish; Joiner and Clarke finish in top 15

Graduate Mary Joiner on Aug. 8, 2019 as the Lady Toppers play a qualifying round at the Bowling Green Country Cub 

Matthew Hargrove

Weather not only affected activity at WKU this week. A rainstorm stopped play on Monday at the First Coast Classic in Jacksonville, Florida, before the WKU women’s golf team finished in fifth place to begin its spring season.

WKU went on to shoot 27-over par and 891 over the course of three days, which was 33 strokes behind the leader in the University of North Florida.

The veterans led the way for WKU with graduate Mary Joiner and senior Meagan Clarke, who both finished in the top 15 individually. Joiner shot 3-over par 219, while Clarke scored one stroke higher with a 4-over par 220.

“I’m proud of Mary and Megan for earning top-15 finishes,” head coach Adam Gary stated in a release. “Their experience paid off and helped us to a top-five team finish.”

Round 1:

Beginning on Sunday, the three-month break from competition was on full display with the Lady Toppers shooting an 8-over 295. This put WKU tied for sixth and already 10 strokes back of the first-place Lady Ospreys.

Joiner put together one of the best overall rounds of the tournament when she shot a dominant 3-under par 69, doing everything in her power to keep WKU within reach heading into day two.

Clarke and senior Olivia Reed held their own as well, as Clarke was tied for the No. 16 spot with a 73 1-over par and Reed tied for the No. 36 spot with a 76 4-over par.

Round 2:

The second round was moving along swiftly until the clock hit 3:30 p.m. CT, and the rain shower hit Deerwood Country Club on Monday afternoon.

WKU was in between holes eight and 12 before the round was suspended until Tuesday morning. The Lady Toppers picked up play as early as 6:45 a.m CT. 

The final 18 holes were capped off with WKU not doing much better, shooting three strokes worse than its first round score.

Reed improved her game by three strokes with an 1-over par 73, but the rest of her teammates couldn’t follow suit with four out of the five other Lady Toppers shooting a 75 or higher. 

Round 3:

There was too much ground to make up heading into the final day down 26 strokes to North Florida, but WKU didn’t do much to help their cause for a comeback either.

For the second day in a row, the Lady Toppers put together a 298, finishing its first tournament of the new semester with a 27-over par 891. WKU still edged its way into the final spot of the top five mix, tying with the University of South Alabama.

Clarke shot her best round of the tournament and best round of the day for WKU, scoring a 72-even par. Joiner, sophomore Sarah Arnold, and redshirt senior Terri Doss who competed as an individual, all scored a 74 which was 2-over par. 

Rounding out the total individual scores for WKU, Arnold and Reed both tied for the No. 27 spot, shooting an 11-over 227. The only other team competitor is freshman Rachel Rich, scoring a team-low 232 for 16-over par.

For the two individual performers, Doss shot a 231 for 15-over par, while freshman Addie Westbrook scored a 235 for 19-over par. 

Despite this being the Lady Toppers fifth top-five finish of the campaign, Gary noticed that there are still a lot of holes to fill the rest of the way.

“We were definitely rusty, but we gained a lot to build on this spring,” Gary said. “We would not have been able to get any practice in this week at home, so I feel fortunate to learn what we need to work on moving forward.”

That rust will need to be replaced with some new parts soon for the Lady Toppers, as WKU’s next match comes against the University of Louisville in the Battle of the Bluegrass on Feb. 28.

Sports reporter Matthew Hargrove can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewHargrov1