Whit women golfers bounce back at NCAAs

Catelyn Webber shoots a career-low 76 as the Missionaries take 12 strokes off their second-round score at the DIII tournament.

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ANGOLA, Ind. - With Catelyn Webber shooting a career-low 76, Whitman College women's golf team bounced back in fine fashion during Thursday's third round of the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament at Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Ind.

The Missionaries shot a 321 team score - slicing a dozen strokes off their bumpy Wednesday total - and kept a Top 10 finish within reach as they head to today's fourth and final round.

Through three rounds, Whitman sits in 12th place with a 970 total, just two strokes behind 11th-place Gustavus Adolphus and seven shots back of two teams (George Fox and St. Olaf's) tied for ninth.

"We're very pleased today with how we responded to yesterday's challenging round," Whitman coach Skip Molitor said. "We bounced back, competed well and had a solid round.

"Catelyn Webber exemplified our resiliency today, finishing her round with a birdie on No. 18 after suffering a triple-bogey seven on a very difficult 14th hole," he added. "She played her last four holes in even par, setting a great example of what it means to keep your composure as your team battles to finish in the top 10."

While Whitman heads to today's finale in the 12th spot, it trails seventh-place Illinois Wesleyan by just 14 strokes.

On the other hand, Washington University (St. Louis) is just one shot behind Whitman. St. Mary's College is three shots back and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is within reach, trailing the Missionaries by 14 shots.

Elaine Whaley and first-year teammate Kelly Sweeney shot matching rounds of 81 in support of Webber's 76.

"Both Kelly and Elaine played very well on the front nine, shooting 39s with one birdie each," Molitor said. "The back nine is tougher and they both finished with a 43."

Katie Zajicek completed Whitman's team score with an 83.

"Katie hit the tee ball very accurately, hitting 13 of 14 fairways," Molitor said. "Carding nothing higher than a five on any hole, she appears ready to finish the tournament on strong note."

Tate Head, Whitman's fifth player, tamed the tough back nine with a "very encouraging 41," Molitor said. "Catelyn Webber's 39 was the only lower score on the back for us today. Tate also is poised for a strong finish after what has been a bit of a struggle for her to this point."

For the tournament, Sweeney continues to pace Whitman with a 54-hole total of 235, which is four shots in front of Webber. Whaley and Zajicek are tied at 248 while Head has a 269 total.

At the top of the leaderboard, defending champion Methodist University remains in first place with a 932 team score. DePauw is two shots back in second place while Williams and Wisconsin Eau-Claire are in the third and fourth place, respectively, at 939 and 942.

The battle for individual medalist honors remains wide open with 10 players within five shots of the leader, Wisconsin Eau-Claire's Catherine Wagner and her 54-hole score of 225.

Playing in their first four-day tournament of the season hasn't seemed to faze his team, Molitor said. "I was impressed with the energy level our players showed today in their third consecutive day of playing 18 holes of competitive golf.

"We anticipate an exciting finish to our first trip to the national championship tournament. I like what I see in our team's determination to finish strongly."

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