MONMOUTH, Ill. – Playing some of its best team golf in recent weeks, Monmouth College is primed for this weekend’s 54-hole Midwest Conference Women’s Golf Championships at Aldeen Golf Course in Rockford, Ill.
“We’re really just looking for three days of consistent golf,” said coach Ashley Sims, now in her fifth season guiding Monmouth’s women. “We don’t expect to post a super-low score. We just want to be around our season average – or even lower – for three days.”
The Fighting Scots got a preview of what their rounds may look like this weekend after competing at Sunday’s Aldeen Preview. The Scots posted a 341 for the 18-hole event and placed three women in the 80s.
“We got a good round in at Aldeen Sunday and that helped everyone settle in for this weekend,” said Sims. “For the veterans, it was a good refresher. For our freshmen, it was a good introduction to the championship course. They know what to expect this weekend and won’t be going in blind. I think it really eased any apprehension for the championships.”
The Scots – and the rest of the field – are chasing Grinnell, winners of the last five league titles. The Pioneers have posted a league-best 304 average, some 30 strokes better than Monmouth’s No. 2 average of 338. Illinois College ranks 10 strokes behind the Scots and nine ahead of Lake Forest. St. Norbert’s women hold the MWC’s highest average at 365.
“We’re playing well going into this weekend,” said Sims. “We can’t focus on anyone or anything but Monmouth. Our focus is strictly on Monmouth and what we can control. That’s been our approach all year. If we have a bad shot, we’ve been able to move on to the next shot.”
While Grinnell has posted the four lowest individual averages this season, Monmouth has three in the top 10. Sophomore Mamie Ambrosch is the Scots’ top scorer, ranked fifth in the MWC, two places ahead of two-time all-league performer Haley Hoekstra. Freshman Dani Freeman has come on strong of late with the league’s 10th-best average. The rest of the Scots’ six-woman tournament team – junior Kaniesha Whatley and freshmen Morgan Bemis and Hannah Taylor – could also jump in the mix, as all have had low rounds this season. The Scots set the program’s 18-hole team record in September and have bettered the old mark twice since.
“Everyone has to have a good day,” said Sims of the possibility of going even lower. “Aldeen is a very tough course. We’ll have to hit our fairways and putt well. If we have a blip on a hole, we’ll have to stay focused and move forward. We’ve done a great job of that this season. We’ve got a deep lineup and that has been our strength. We don’t have to rely on one person to carry the full load. We’ve had multiple women as our top finisher this year. It’s made for a relaxed approach where we know if we’re having a bad day, someone will be there to pick us up. That philosophy has served us well this season, and we’re counting on the same this weekend.”