This week's Missouri Valley Conference Golfers of the Week are Bradley's Bari Erais and Illinois State's Joe Emerich. Erais was runner-up finisher at the Payne Stewart Memorial in Springfield, Mo., while Emerich was the top MVC finisher at the Kansas Men's Invitational in Lawrence, Kan.
Senior Bari Erais and the Bradley women’s golf team opened the season with a strong showing, finishing fourth at the season-opening Payne Stewart Memorial. Erais shot rounds of 75 and 71 to finish tied for top individual honors in the shortened tournament at 146. She lost in a playoff with McNeese State’s Maggie Welch for medalist honors to claim second in the tournament. Erais pushed her school career record for top 10 finishes to 17 and her second-round 71 is tied for the 12th lowest round in school history. It also marked the seventh time Erais has shot 72 or lower as a Brave.
Following a flood delay on Monday, the tournament was shortened to 36-holes, 18 played Monday afternoon, and the final round on Tuesday morning. The weather was beautiful for both days and resulted in low scores throughout the field. The field also included Missouri State, SIU, Wichita State and UNI. Oral Roberts won the tournament and finished the 2007-08 season ranked 94th according to Golf Week.
Missouri State was the top MVC team at the tournament, placing third overall in the 11-team field. MSU freshman Catherine Dolan, finished third in a field of 74 individual players. Southern Illinois was led by Alisha Matthews and Lauren May. Both finished in the top 12 individually. UNI's Heather Frye posted the Panthers' best 36-hole total at the tournament. Frye, competing as an individual, tied for 29th with a two-round score of 161 (79-82). Meanwhile, Wichita State finished tied for ninth. Krista Hrdlicka tied for ninth, posting the seventh-lowest 36-hole score in Shocker women's golf history by turning in a final score of 154 (78-76). Hrdlicka also posted back-to-back scores in the 70's for the first time in her career. As a team, the Shockers turned in their best round in years, posting a second round of 309 for the best round since the 2005-06 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship.
Two Valley teams competed at the Chip-N-Club Invitational in Lincoln, Neb., on Sept. 15-16. Drake finished eighth in the 12-team field, and Creighton was 12th, on the par-72, 6,068-yard layout on Wilderness Ridge. Drake's Olivia Lansing was the top MVC finisher at the tournament, taking sixth place in the 72-player field with a three-round 72-73-76=221. Creighton was led by Elizabeth Conry, who had a three-round 240.
And two Valley women's golf programs were at the Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor. Illinois State took fourth in the 13-team field, and Indiana State was tied for 10th. Rain was the name of the game for the first two rounds on Saturday as competitors played four holes before tournament official’s suspended play because of the wet conditions. A one day, 18-hole tournament was held on Sunday. Indiana State's Breanne Smith fired a four-over par 75 to tie for 9th in the tournament. The junior started out on the back nine and, despite the wet conditions, stayed in the hunt for medalist honors for most the round but bogeyed three of her final four holes. Illinois State's Laura Harris carded a 3-over-par 74 to finish in a tie for sixth place at the Redbirds’ season opening tournament. Harris led the Redbirds to a fourth-place finish (307) behind Michigan, Minnesota and Eastern Michigan.
It was a lighter week in Missouri Valley men's golf, as only three teams were in action -- all at the Kansas Men's Invitational in Lawrence, Kan.
Joe Emerich of Illinois State tallied his second top-20 of the year with a 6-over-par, 222 (76-72-73) at the tournament on Monday and Tuesday. He led the team to a seventh-place finish, beating fellow Missouri Valley Conference teams, Northern Iowa (14th-place) and Evansville (15th-place). UNI's top individual finisher was Matt Sargent (80-70-78), while Evansville's Matt Hunsaker and Neal Millay clocked in at 233 to lead Evansville.