For the first time since 2013, the North Dakota State women’s golf team captured the Summit League Championship. NDSU shot low the first two days at Arbor Links in Nebraska City and held off a charge from four-time defending champions Denver to claim the title.
The consistent play of senior Natalie Roth led the Bison. Roth opened the first round with a birdie on the first hole. The one under mark stuck throughout the round as Roth finished with a 71, tied for the lead.
She was not the only Bison to shoot low in the first round. Alexis Thomas birdied the final two holes to finish a three-under back nine. Thomas finished with an even-par 72.
Sierra Bennion was one shot further back with a 73 on the first day. Taylor McCorkle and Emma Groom rounded out the scoring finishing at 75 and 77.
All the Bison sat in the top-12 after 18 holes. The team total of 291 was the second lowest 18-hole score for NDSU this year and gave the Bison a 10-shot lead over Denver.
The story got even better for the Bison on the second day. NDSU cut a pair of strokes off their first-round score and registered the second lowest 18-hole score in program history with a 289.
Beenion led the charge for the Bison. The sophomore carded just a single bogey for the round a birdied the fourth, seventh and thirteenth to finish with a two-under 70. It was the lowest score of the day and catapulted Beenion to the top of the leaderboard.
Roth, McCorkle and Groom each scored a one-over 73 for the round and Thomas registered a 77. All five Bison went into the final day in the top-10 and the team held a 13-shot lead.
NDSU ended up needing that large of a cushion on the final day. Thomas and Beenion shot NDSU’s first rounds of the tournament in the 80s at 86 and 81.
Groom carded a 79 and McCorkle had a pair of birdies to at sixteen and seventeen to finish with a 75 on the afternoon.
With the gap between the top teams closing, it was the senior leadership of Roth that held the ship steady.
Playing in the penultimate grouping, the senior continued her consistent play. An opening hole birdie set the tone for the round. Roth followed up a bogey on the fourth with another birdie on the fifth hole.
A pair of bogeys on the back nine led to a one-over score for the tournament and NDSU finished with a team score of 888 for the three rounds. Denver fired a 299 on the final day to cut the Bison lead to four strokes, but it was not enough.
It was NDSU fifth tournament win of the season, tying the program high first set in 2012-13, the last time the Bison won the Summit League.
Individually, Roth finished in a tie for first with Denver’s Sophie Newlove and South Dakota State’s Teresa Toscano. Toscano shot the lowest round score of the tournament in the final round with a 69.
But it was Newlove who captured the individual medalist honors in the playoff on the seventeenth hole. Roth and Toscano officially tied for second.
Next up for the Bison, an NCAA Regional round on May 7-9. The regional selections were released Wednesday night after press time.