Ducks hitting their stride as NCAA Championships approach

Oregon sophomore Caroline Inglis watches her approach shot fly through the air on the sixteenth hole. Oregon State University hosts the Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championships at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Ore. on April 26, 2014. (Ryan Kang/Emerald)

After a somewhat disappointing fall, Oregon women’s golf is on a hot streak to start an important spring season. The Ducks opened their season with a win over Oregon State in the Civil War Match Challenge and finished fourth at the Peg Barnard Invitational at Stanford, a tournament in which they held the lead heading into the final round.

Despite coughing up that lead, the Ducks showed that they were ready to bounce back from the fall and make a final push for the NCAA Championships.

That notion was only reinforced when the Ducks claimed victory at the Westbrook Invitational in Peoria, Arizona, in February.

“I think the team win was great for confidence, especially at that golf course. It gave us opportunities to go low and get more comfortable in that situation,” senior team captain Caroline Inglis said.

Inglis has been the unquestioned leader of this Ducks team. Her stroke average is a team best 73.19 for the season — this average does not include her score from the Westbrook Invitational — and she is currently ranked the 14th best amateur in the world by Women’s Amateur Golf Ranking.

In the Westbrook Invitational, she tied with teammate Cathleen Santoso for third place overall with a score of 4-under par (212). Santoso has been another important part of the Ducks’ early success this spring. She’s currently third on the team with a 75.06 stroke average and feels that the win in Arizona only raises expectations going forward.

“We definitely have a stronger mindset in that we have the faith and belief in ourselves that we can win and we can play that good and compete against the best,” Santoso said.

Santoso attributes the tournament win to patience and discipline, aspects that the team hasn’t been without but could use more of, especially as the National Championships approach.

While Oregon was probably happy to see the fall season end — they only had two top five finishes in the five matches — head coach Ria Scott was never worried heading into the Spring.

“We knew that, from our experience last year when we didn’t have a great Fall, that a great spring is still possible,” Scott said. “So we weren’t ruling out the possibility of being able to come out of the gate strong and have a strong spring because we know that we are capable of a lot more than what we scored in the fall segment.”

Scott has been impressed with the leadership that the upperclassmen — especially Inglis and Santoso — have displayed but also thoroughly enjoys what the newcomers to the team are starting to accomplish. The Ducks added two quality recruits this season in freshman Petra Salko and Kathleen Scavo. Both performed well during this season. Salko is currently just behind Santoso for fourth in team stroke average at 75.50 and Scavo recently tied for ninth overall at the Westbrook Invitational.

“You look at them on the golf course and they don’t conduct themselves like freshmen,” Scott said of Scavo and Salko. “They might have had some freshman moments in the fall but they’ve quickly gotten over those and really have showed a lot of maturity here in the last few events.”

The Ducks look to win back-to-back tournaments for the first time this season as they head to Florida next for the Suntrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville.

Follow Gus Morris on Twitter@JustGusMorris

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