Women’s golf places fourth, Calbi ’19 earns second in invitational

by Henry Arndt | 9/22/15 6:01pm

Led by an exciting second-place overall performance from Julia Calbi ’19, the women’s golf team opened its 2015-2016 season with a solid fourth-place finish among the field of 11 teams at the Chesapeake Bay Invitational on the par-72 United States Naval Academy golf course. Despite not having a single golfer finish in the top five individuals, the University of Pennsylvania won the event on the strength of a tournament-low 301 second-round score and a 61-over-par finish on the weekend.

“It was a good test,” head coach Alex Kirk said. “I think we were right there with them, and I think we’re going to have a better year this year. This weekend was a good indicator.”

A one-hole playoff for first place between Calbi and Towson University junior Emma Hjarne — Dartmouth’s first in recent memory — served as the highlight of the weekend action.

“The playoff was a really exciting,” Lily Morrison ’16 said. “That’s the first time I’ve gotten to watch a Dartmouth player in a playoff. It was her first tournament ever, so we were already really proud of how well she did and how she really held her own, and we’re excited to see her win it next time.”

After 54 holes, Calbi was deadlocked with Towson’s Hjarne at nine-over. Calbi, who played the third round in the same group as Hjarne, putted in on the 18th hole thinking that she was actually one stroke behind Hjarne and had lost the tournament, only to find out after walking off the course that she had finished in a tie.

“[Hjarne] made a putt for par, and I made a bogey down the stretch so I thought for some reason she was ahead of me by one,” Calbi said. “I thought, ‘Okay let’s just par in and keep it steady.’”

Calbi said she did not believe Kirk at first when he told her she had earned a playoff for the top spot, and did not realize the final standings until a tournament official came over to inform her.

The playoff took place on a long par five, and Hjarne’s distance off the tee made the difference.

“It’s a game of inches,” Kirk said. “[Calbi] left a putt hanging on the 17th hole that almost went in for birdie, and she missed one. If that goes in, we win.”

At the 2015 Ivy League Women’s Golf Championship in April, the Big Green came in seventh and finished 53 strokes behind fifth-place Penn. This weekend, the Big Green shot 73-over and was only 12 strokes behind Penn at the end of the tournament, indicative of a potentially shrinking gap between Dartmouth and its Ivy League competition.

More than anything, the first competition of the year showed a bright future for the women’s golf team, which featured a travel lineup of four freshmen and one senior. Although the freshmen had yet to complete even a full week of classes, they immediately proved their mettle and set a precedent early in their collegiate careers.

Calbi, the No. 30-ranked high school recruit in the nation, lived up to lofty expectations in her debut. Faced with the mental and physical challenges of nine hours of golf on a 36-hole Saturday, Calbi rose to the occasion and finished the first day atop the leaderboard, dropping a pair of two-over 74s.

“The first day it was kind of sunny, and the heat was getting to you by the last six holes,” Calbi said. “You really just had to gut it out and grind. It was a really good mental and physical test. Golf is already mentally challenging, so when you’re playing 36 [holes] in one day, it makes you appreciate playing 18.”

The remaining three Big Green freshmen also finished their first collegiate competition in the top 30.

“The golf team only gets two recruits every year, so two of our freshmen were actually walk-ons,” Morrison said. “Women’s golf in general is really improving. It’s amazing in my time in the past four years how much it’s grown and how much more people are involved in trying to play college golf.”

Despite the windy conditions on Sunday, Angela Zhang ’19 made a push in the final round, shooting a 77 to finish the tournament 18-over and tie for 14th.

“[Zhang] played really well, which was exciting,” Calbi said. “She’s a really consistent ball striker, and she was feeling super consistent especially on the last day.”

Catherine Roddy ’19 shot a 79 on the final 18 to finish the tournament in 24th, and Hana Bradshaw ’19 ended the weekend 23-over in 28th.

While the team experienced encouraging success, the Big Green has even bigger goals in mind for the rest of the season. To elevate their play, the women need to continue to fine tune their short game, Morrison said.

“Right now, we are focused on working hard on our short game so that we can take advantage of where we are after our longer shots and drives and turn that into lower scores,” Morrison said.

The Big Green returns home this weekend for the annual Dartmouth Invitational on the Hanover Country Club course.