March 9, 2016
By Chris Masters
Dates: March 11-13, 2016
Format: 54 holes (18 holes Friday-Sunday)
Tee Times: 10 a.m. ET/8 a.m. MT Friday-Sunday (split-tee starts on Friday-Saturday; shotgun start Sunday)
Location: Mesa, Arizona
Course (Par/Yardage): Longbow Golf Club (par 72/6,184 yards)
Tournament Field (in order of latest Golfstat ranking): Notre Dame (20), SMU (37), TCU (43), Oklahoma (53), UNCW (78), Penn State (81), South Florida (87), FIU (102), Ole Miss (106), Columbia (108), Nebraska (115), Central Arkansas (122), Cincinnati (126), Tulsa (131), IUPUI (198), UNCG (205) and Central Michigan (241).
Notre Dame Lineup (2015-16 stroke average): Talia Campbell (72.76), Isabella DiLisio (72.47), Emma Albrecht (73.24), Maddie Rose Hamilton (74.53), Jordan Ferreira (74.71), Kari Bellville (75.94 – competing as individual), Alison Snakard (making season debut – competing as individual), Janie Fineis (making season debut – competing as individual)
Live Scoring: BirdieFire.com
Twitter: @NDwomensGolf (#CloverCup)
MESA, Ariz. — Approximately 1,800 miles separate the first tee at the University of Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course from the No. 1 tee box at the Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona.
Yet, if you ask the members of the Notre Dame women’s golf program, Longbow is unmistakably its home away from home, as the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish play host to the fifth annual Clover Cup this weekend in the Valley of the Sun.
The Clover Cup, which once again will be co-sponsored by Longbow and Visit Mesa, has become a staple of Notre Dame’s annual spring break trip. The Fighting Irish arrived in Mesa on Saturday, March 5, and have not only had the chance to get in several important practice rounds, but they also have given back to the Mesa community, highlighted by a visit to Cardon Children’s Medical Center on Wednesday, spending time with the pediatric cancer patients currently undergoing treatment at the award-winning facility.
“This is always one of the highlights of our season, not only for the tournament, but being able to get involved in the Mesa community and come together as a team for a week on the road,” Notre Dame head coach Susan Holt said. “We’re so grateful to the teams at Longbow and Visit Mesa who have done so much to support our tournament and make this a first-class experience for everyone.”
The Fighting Irish will be playing their second tournament in Arizona in the past three weeks. Back on Feb. 21-22, Notre Dame finished sixth at the Westbrook Spring Invitational in Peoria (on the northwest side of the Phoenix metropolitan area), carding a one-over par 865 that was the fifth-lowest team score in the program’s 28-year history.
Now the Fighting Irish are challenged to build upon that success and return to the winner’s circle, a place they visited twice during the fall season. Notre Dame also will be aiming to do something they have yet to do in the brief history of the Clover Cup — come away with a team victory. The Fighting Irish have come tantalizingly close in the past two years, settling for runner-up finishes, but they believe the third time will be the charm in rising to the top step of the podium.
Notre Dame will be the highest-ranked team in this weekend’s 17-team Clover Cup field, having risen to a season-high No. 20 in the latest Golfstat rankings. A pair of Texas schools — No. 37 SMU and No. 43 TCU — likely will challenge the Fighting Irish for top honors this weekend. SMU edged Notre Dame by a single stroke last month at Westbrook, while TCU finished two shots behind the Fighting Irish at last year’s Clover Cup.
“We’ve had a couple of very good weeks of practice, especially the last few days since we got down here to Mesa,” Holt said. “The players have taken advantage of that time to focus on some of the little details in their game, the finer points that can really make a difference in the end. I like where we are as a team right now, and I’m really looking forward to seeing us put together a strong effort this weekend on a course we’re familiar with and can really capitalize on when we’re playing well.”
Senior captain Talia Campbell (Dallas, Texas/Ursuline Academy) leads off the Notre Dame lineup this weekend, carrying a career-best 72.76 stroke average through her first six tournaments of the season. Campbell has finished in the top 20 in three of those events, including a tie for ninth place at the Westbrook Spring Invitational, where she fired a season-low 214 (-2).
Freshman Isabella DiLisio (Hatfield, Pa./Mount Saint Joseph Academy) actually leads the team with a 72.47 stroke average this year, having placed in the top 10 at four tournaments. Like Campbell, DiLisio tied for ninth at Westbrook with a personal-best 214 score.
Another rookie, Emma Albrecht (Ormond Beach, Fla./Father Lopez) has quietly emerged as a solid contributor to the Notre Dame lineup this season. She is third on the roster with a 73.24 stroke average, with all 11 of her rounds as a starter counting to the team score. She also is coming off a career-low score in her last outing, shooting 219 (+3) at Westbrook on the way to a tie for 33rd place.
Freshman Maddie Rose Hamilton (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) has shown flashes of promise all year long, currently standing fourth on the team with a 74.53 stroke average. What’s more, she has shot 74 or lower in four of her last five rounds, putting her on the brink of a breakthrough performance in the coming weeks.
Junior Jordan Ferreira (University Place, Wash./Bellarmine Prep) rounds out the Fighting Irish lineup this weekend, returning to the starting five after competing as an individual participant for the first time in her career at Westbrook. Ferreira owns a career-low 74.71 stroke average this season with three top-25 finishes on her resume.
The other three players on the Notre Dame roster will take part in this weekend’s Clover Cup as individual participants. Sophomore Kari Bellville (Granger, Ind./Penn) has appeared in all six events this year, registering a career-best 75.94 stroke average. Meanwhile, sophomore Alison Snakard (Collegeville, Pa./Mount Saint Joseph Academy) and junior Janie Fineis (East Lansing, Mich./Lansing Catholic) will make their season debuts.
Notre Dame will provide live scoring of the Clover Cup through the BirdieFire web site (BirdieFire.com), with in-progress updates also provided through the Fighting Irish women’s golf Twitter feed (@NDwomensGolf).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s golf program, visit the women’s golf page of the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (UND.com/ndwomensgolf), sign up to follow the Notre Dame women’s golf Twitter feed (@NDwomensGolf) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s golf and women’s basketball programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).