The Jennies victory at the Jennies Golf Invitational was in the bag by the time Olivia Sobaski reached the 18th hole. The decorated junior punctuated her second-place finish with a well-placed tee shot and clutch putt for birdie in front of friends and family.
Sobaski and the Jennies won their second straight tournament Tuesday at Mules National Golf Club and have won three of their last four tournaments dating back to last fall. It is the first time in program history that the team has won back-to-back tournaments.
“It’s awesome. I think it is definitely proof of all the hard work this team has put in,” Sobaski said. “Whether it’s in the gym, in the classroom or on the golf course, everyone on this team has been working hard and pushing each other to higher levels.”
Freshman Molly Saporito led the field at the end of round one for the first time in her college career. A rough front nine in round two set her back followed by a double bogey on the 12th hole.
“I never really slept on a lead in a college tournament before. So, that was new,” Saporito said. “Obviously I want to play well for myself and my team. (I) had some trouble along the way but I was able to get it together toward the end.”
Saporito bounced back to birdie holes 13 and 15, finishing nine over par with a career-best third-place finish.
“She (Saporito) really put a nice round together,” said Jennies head coach Chris Port. “She had a couple bogies but that’s the nerves and that’s being a freshman with a chance to have a great event. For her to finish third today, I’m just super proud of her.”
Sobaski climbed eight positions in round two, marking her fifth top-3 finish in six tournaments this season. Junior Madison Grisham picked up four spots to tie a career-best finish in sixth place. Freshman Rosie Klausner shot six over par in round two and finished in 13th place. Sophomore Emma Solovic rounded out the Jennies winning squad in 37th place.
Missouri Western’s Shi Qing Ong took first place, shooting two under par in the final round to win by five strokes over Sobaski. The Griffons senior has won three-straight individual titles this spring.
Port said he wasn’t sure what to expect of the team at the beginning of the spring season due to the long winter keeping them inside longer than they expected.
“It has been a tough spring to get ready and last week,” he said. “I didn’t really know what we’d come out and do.”
The home tournament was a rare opportunity to play in their backyard and Port said the team made the most of it.
“You know there’s some expectation to play well here,” he said. “I was excited to see us put a solid score yesterday and then I was really excited to see us play well today. I mean, we shot 301 and put it to the rest of the field.”
Sobaski said there was no pressure on her final hole with her teammates and family watching.
“It’s one of those shots where there can be a lot of pressure,” she said. “Just being able to push that pressure off and say, ‘I’m here to execute a shot,’ makes it a lot more simple.”
The Jennies have experienced their most successful season in the young program’s history, winning three team championships after winning just two in their first six seasons. Port said the success of this season goes a long way in benefitting the program’s future.
“It creates the ability to recruit better,” he said. “It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. If we’re playing well, more kids are paying attention to you. So if we can continue to recruit better players, then we can play better.”
At the end of the fall season, Klausner said she expected the team to continue to push toward its first national appearance. Saporito echoed those same expectations following the team’s win Tuesday.
The Jennies will try to make it three straight wins this weekend at the Upper Iowa Invite where they won last season. The two-day tournament is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo, Iowa.