Golf: Last round for Tribe seniors

It wasn’t until the last day, on the last hole, when the emotion finally overcame her.

Senior Morgan Stepanek tied for fourth at the CAA Championships in Hot Springs, Va. Sunday, leading William and Mary to a fourth place team finish. But it was memories and moments, more so than eagles and tee shots, which defined the weekend.

Stepanek parred her final hole on Sunday, ending the weekend with a three-day score of 229 (+15). She shot a 75 on the last day, sinking her final putt in front of family and teammates.

It was then when the finality of the moment set in.

“Honestly, I teed off on Sunday and treated it just like another round of golf,” Stepanek said. “But in that final round, after I holed that last putt, the emotions came. I started to cry, my parents were crying, my teammates came over and gave me a big hug. There’s nothing better than finishing up and being embraced by your teammates.”

Her coach, Jay Albaugh, shared his standout senior’s sentiments.

“I knew it was going to be an emotional tournament,” Albaugh said. “She and I talked before about reminiscing after the tournament and I think she did a good job of that. But when she holed that final putt and was standing there on the green, finished, the emotions hit me. She’ll go down as one of the best ever to play here.”

Stepanek shot a pair of 77s on the first two days of the tournament, adjusting her approach due to the 35 to 40 mph winds whipping through the fairways on Friday and Saturday. She returned to shoot her best score of the weekend on Sunday, as did sophomore Caroline Sweet who carded a 73 in her final round to finish the weekend in seventh place with a score of 234 (+18).

The wind played a big part in the men’s tournament as well, as the Tribe finished second with a team total of 299 (+19). Freshman Jeremy Wells led the Tribe with a 54-hole score of 223 (+13), while sophomore Scott Saal and junior Zach Glassman each carded scores of 227 (+17), respectively.

Wells finished ninth, while Glassman and Saal tied for 16th.

“It was a very good overall performance on their part,” Albaugh said. “It was not a great season, but to have good results at the end, it was nice to see the guys regain their confidence and put it all together.”

Despite the conditions, the College finished strong as a team, with no golfer scoring above 230 for the weekend. Second team all-CAA performer junior Brandon Parker and senior Conor O’Brien each tied for 23rd with a score of 229 (+19).

“Patience was the key,” Albaugh said. “We knew going in teams would be making bogeys. What I told the women’s [team] was to persevere. There were going to be a lot of big scores that second day because that was probably the worst conditions I’ve ever coached or played competitively in.”

But the Tribe kept at it, and on an emotional Sunday which featured the final rounds of Stepanek and O’Brien’s collegiate careers, it was a team approach that won the day.

“On the men’s side, there was not one player. There was a hot player each day and an all around team effort,” Albaugh said. “Same with the women. They put it together on the last day and eliminated big numbers. Everybody contributed.”


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