Bird Carries Huskers to Chip-N Club Title

By NU Athletic Communications
Nebraska's Mary Kate Bird produced the best finish of her career with a one-under-par 215 to finish second at the Chip-N Club Invite.
Nebraska's Mary Kate Bird produced the best finish of her career with a one-under-par 215 to finish second at the Chip-N Club Invite.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lincoln - Mary Kate Bird produced the best finish of her collegiate career with a one-under-par 215 to finish in second place individually, while powering Nebraska to the team title with a three-round total of 884 at the 2008 Chip-N Club Invitational at Wilderness Ridge Golf Course on Tuesday. 

Bird, a sophomore from Kansas City, Mo., headed a contingent of five Husker individuals who finished in the top 10 at Nebraska's season-opening tournament. Bird managed a final-round 73 to go along with an opening-round 70 and a second-round 72. The 215 marked Bird's best tournament score of her career, while the second-place finish was also a career best.

Unfortunately for Bird, Arkansas-Little Rock's Sara Wickstrom walked away with the individual title by birdeying the 18th hole to finish Tuesday's final round with a one-under-par 71 to close the tournament at 214 with medalist honors.

Wickstrom, who entered the day one shot back of Bird at 143, took control of the individual race with three straight birdies on the fourth, fifth and sixth holes. But Bird battled back on the back nine and Wickstrom took three straight bogeys on 10, 11 and 12 to put Bird back in the driver's seat. Both golfers birdied 14, but Bird took a bogey on 15 before knocking in pars the rest of the way. Wickstrom added three straight pars on 15, 16 and 17 before draining the winning birdie on 18.

"I can't say enough about Mary Kate Bird," Nebraska Coach Robin Krapfl said. "She had to eagle her last hole in qualifying just to get into the starting lineup for the tournament. Then she played solid golf throughout the tournament. In the last round she played great and just came up one stroke short. But she played tough and had a great tournament."

Bird was far from alone in playing great golf during the tournament. Husker junior JC Stevenson closed the tournament with a final-round 71 to finish in fifth place at 220. Fellow juniors Kate White and Charlotte Wendner added eighth-place finishes at 222. White, playing on NU's top team, matched Bird with a 73 on Tuesday, while Wendner produced the best round of the day by any golfer with a career-low, three-under-par 69 to add a 222 of her own. Wendner led the Nebraska "B" team to a sixth-place team finish in the 13-team field. The Huskers' second unit closed the tournament with a solid score of 909.

While the Nebraska "B" team put on impressive display of the Huskers' depth, NU's starting five showed the ability to play consistently strong golf.

The Huskers took over the team lead from Arkansas-Little Rock heading into the back nine and built the lead until the final three holes before a late charge by UALR narrowed the final margin to four strokes. UALR closed the tournament at 888. East Carolina held on for third place at 897, 13 strokes behind the Huskers, while UC Riverside finished fourth at 904. Texas State rounded out the top five at 906, just ahead of the Huskers' reserve squad.

"Heading into the tournament I knew we had a very talented team, but you never know what's going to happen," Krapfl said. "To have them come out and play this well, especially in the final round, shows the kind of competitiveness our team possesses. I think this could turn out to be a special season for us."

The Huskers return to action next week at the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational, Sept. 22-23.

2008 Chip-N Club Invitational
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008
Final Results
Wilderness Ridge Golf Course
Par 72, 6,068 Yards

1. Nebraska - 298-295-291-884
2. Arkansas-Little Rock - 292-300-296-888
3. East Carolina - 301-299-297-897
4. UC Riverside - 308-295-301-904
5. Texas State - 307-301-298-906
6. Nebraska (B) - 299-311-299-909
7. Kansas - 306-306-304-916
8. Kansas State - 310-305-303-918
9. Drake - 303-304-312-919
10. Illinois - 314-304-304-922
11. UMKC - 309-311-305-925
12. South Dakota State - 318-313-314-945
13. Creighton - 329-323--316-968

Individual Leaderboard
1. Sara Wikstrom, UALR - 69-74-71-214
2. Mary Kate Bird, Nebraska - 70-72-73-215
3. Jennifer Bermingham - UC Riverside - 74-70-74-218
4. Abby Bools, East Carolina - 76-73-70-219
5. JC Stevenson, Nebraska - 76-73-71-220
T6. Olivia Lansing, Drake - 72-73-76-221
T6. Trine Mortensen, Texas State - 75-72-74-221
T8. Kate White, Nebraska - 74-75-73-222
T8. Charlotte Wendner, Nebraska - 74-79-69-222
10. Grace Thiry, Kansas - 76-74-73-223

Other Nebraska Individuals
T22. Natalie Gleadall, Nebraska - 78-77-74-229
T30. Rachel Hanigan, Nebraska - 82-75-74-231
T33. Megan Place, Nebraska (B) - 77-81-74-232
T33. Carolyn Schorgl, Nebraska (B) - 75-76-81-232
T37. Kayla Knopik, Nebraska (B) - 73-84-76-233
T53. Maddie Sheils, Nebraska (B) - 84-75-80-239

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