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Swaney finishes 3rd, Mesa wins team title at Maverick Invite

Colorado Mesa’s Sara Swaney chips onto the first green Tuesday during the second round of the Maverick Invitational at the Golf Club at Redlands Mesa. Swaney shot a 1-over-par 73 to finish third to lead Mesa to the team title.

Sara Swaney could have let hole No. 18 ruin her day, because it really was day-ruining stuff.

A double-bogey prevented the Colorado Mesa University senior from shooting par, perhaps even 1-under. On top of that, this was the final home tournament of her college career, and parring the final hole would have netted her first tournament win as a Maverick. Bogeying it would have put her in a three-person playoff.

Rather than bemoan what could have been, Swaney was happy with what did happen: She finished third with a rock-solid score of 73 at The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa, and her three-stroke improvement from the first round of the Maverick Invitational was part of a strong second day for her team.

Led by Swaney and Naomi Yamada, whose 74 in the second round was seven shots better than Day 1, the Mavericks’ four scorers totaled 304 strokes Tuesday, giving them a two-day total of 619 and their third tournament title of the season.

Mesa finished six strokes ahead of runner-up Metro State, which led by two strokes going into the day.

Swaney said double-bogeys are part of the game, and it was unfortunate it happened on the final hole, but “I’m still proud of the round.”

There was a lot to like, such as the eagle she carded on No. 10. Her driver put her 185 yards out, and her 4 hybrid left her with a four-foot, downhill putt. She played it with no break and sank it.

“I was on a mission and trying to do the best I could,” she said of her start to the back nine after making the turn at 2-over.

Swaney nearly eagled No. 13, where she was on the green in two strokes.

“I had a 20-foot putt and just barely missed it,” she said. “I had a foot coming back.”

She settled for birdie and had one more birdie during her round, collecting it on No. 17 to go 1-under heading to the final hole. There, she hit a 4-wood into a bunker and took two shots to get out, then just missed her putt for bogey.

With no live scoring on the course, Swaney said she wasn’t sure where she stood. She eventually found out Metro State’s Cha Cha Wilhoite shot a 148, as did Cal State Monterey Bay’s Linnea Karlsson. Those two headed back to No. 18 for a playoff, which Wilhoite won.

CMU coach Scott Hansen wished Swaney would have gotten her first tournament win.

“That’s what’s kind of sad about today,” he said. “She made a great birdie on 17 to take the lead. I wish she would’ve at least gotten into the playoff. That would’ve been fun.”

It still was fun for Swaney, who had extra incentive to shoot well Tuesday.

“I just really had the mentality, ‘This is my last home tournament,’ and I really wanted to go out and enjoy it,” she said.

Yamada said the difference in her rounds was on Day 2 she reached greens in regulation on 15 holes and took advantage of better pin placements.

“I played really boring golf,” she said. “It was easy pars.”

Her final hole in the shotgun start was No. 1, and she walked away with a good feeling, sinking about a 12-foot putt for par.

“It wasn’t an easy putt,” she said, “but looking at it, I thought, ‘I can make this.’ ... It was breaking right. I had to aim three feet to the left. It was a good line, and it went in.”

Freshman Ashlyn Kirschner demonstrated Mesa’s depth as she filled in for Megan Liborio, who was out with an illness, and shot rounds of 77 and 78 to match Yamada with a 155.

“She more than held her own,” Hansen said. “She really stepped in when she had the opportunity and played well.”

Kirschner thought she could have shot several strokes better each day if she’d putted better.

“That’s where I lost a lot of strokes,” she said.

Kirschner’s tee shots helped her get to the greens in good shape, as she said, “Off the tee helped a lot, took a lot of trouble out of play.”

Taylor Walters completed the Mavs’ team score with a 160, shooting rounds of 81 and 79.


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