Freshman phenom Julia Allison successfully negotiated the hazards of a difficult course and surging competition this weekend to win the William and Mary Invitational in Williamsburg, Va.
Her dominating play garnered first-place honors and led the women's golf team to a third place finish.
Allison shot two consecutive rounds of 78 Saturday and Sunday to beat out the tournament's tough field. Her cumulative score of 156 clinched a one-stroke win and her second collegiate tournament victory.
Allison's individual success highlighted a strong overall showing by the team. Princeton's four lowest scores combined for a stroke total of 656. The Tigers' efforts placed them behind only James Madison and UNC-Wilmington out of the 12-team field.
"We felt pretty solid (about the third-place finish)," head coach Eric Stein said. "This is the toughest overall field that we'll face this spring."
The annual tournament at William and Mary provided a different pool of competitors for Princeton. The Tigers faced some of the stronger teams from the South instead of seeing many of its usual Eastern rivals.
The tournament was held in Williamsburg, at Ford's Colony Golf Course. The course, which Golf Week Magazine named one of "America's Best Golf Courses," was a challenge for the Tigers. With 60 bunkers and numerous water hazards, the venue became an opponent in itself.
"It was the toughest course we play in the spring season," Stein said. "(Playing well became) a test of guts and brains and course management skills."
The Tigers' good showing is a tribute to their ability to deal with the unexpected. The course conditions were not ideal. Scrappy greens and a gusting wind hurt Princeton's chances for victory.
Not in the know
"The course wasn't in very good condition," Allison said. "The mistakes I made were mostly (because I lacked) local knowledge."
Dealing with the intangibles of the competition and the nuances of the course will help the Tigers play competitively later this season.
Allison's win demonstrates this par excellence. Although she didn't hit many fairways on her first shots, Allison was able to recover and put the ball on the greens.
"She is able to maintain a mellow attitude," said Stein. "She always knows that she's capable of getting a birdie."
Fellow freshman Natalie Christensen, Princeton's second lowest scorer, emerged from a tough opening round Saturday to deliver a 79 Sunday. Her cumulative score of 161 helped to secure the Tigers' third-place team finish.
Princeton's top five scorers are a mix of youth and experience. With three freshmen and two senior captains leading the team, even more success is on the horizon.
The women's golf team heads for more familiar territory this weekend. The Tigers will face their eastern rivals at the two-day Boston College Invitational. The team then heads for the second-ever women's Ivy Championship April 16-18.