Rocky golfers to shoot for national berths

2014-04-27T08:00:00Z Rocky golfers to shoot for national berthsBy BILL BIGHAUS The Billings Gazette

Rocky Mountain College golf coach Aaron Pohle said the goal of his men and women "is to win every tournament we step into."

Up next for the Battlin' Bears will be the 54-hole Frontier Conference championship tournament on Monday and Tuesday at Larchmont Golf Course in Missoula.

Rocky's men and women, who swept the Frontier regular-season titles, will be looking to win the postseason tournament and claim automatic berths to the NAIA championship competition.

Frontier teams may also be in line for at-large berths.

"Just like any major on a tour event, we're trying to peak at the right time," said Pohle, a second-year head coach. "We're really, really close to peaking."

The format for the Frontier tourney will be individual stroke play, with 36 holes on Monday, followed by 18 on Tuesday. Eight men's and women's teams will be participating at the neutral site.

Rocky's men and women ruled over league play during the course of three regular-season tournaments, held in the fall and spring.

"That's a huge confidence boost to both of our teams," Pohle said.

Rocky's women are also ranked 11th nationally, while the men have been receiving votes in the national balloting.

"I feel very, very confident that both of our teams will win the conference championship and get that automatic bid to nationals," Pohle said.

Rocky's women last appeared at nationals in 2012, but they've advanced 13 times in the last 15 years. The men last qualified as a team in 2010.

The men's national tournament will be May 13-16 in Daytona Beach, Fla., while the women's event is May 20-23 in Lincoln, Neb.

The Rocky teams competed at the Klosterman Spring Classic in Jamestown, N.D., , sweeping the team and medalist titles, earlier this week before heading to Missoula.

Rocky's women's team at the Frontier showdown will be comprised of seniors Katy Peterson and Margo Salsbery, junior Chere Anderson and sophomores Kyla Clancy and Mckenzie Webinger.

Salsbery has been bothered by a bad back. If she isn't able to play, senior Allie Sauvageau will take her place, Pohle said.

"We have one of the best teams out there," Pohle said of his women. "If we play like we know we can play, we have a good shot at winning the national tournament or at least finishing in the top five, which has been our goal from the start of the season."

Individually, Clancy ranks seventh nationally, according to Golfstat, with her 76.63 scoring average. Peterson is eighth at 77.20.

Heading into the Jamestown tournament, Clancy had won three consecutive events.

On the men's side, the Bears will most likely be represented in Missoula by juniors Daniel Thompsett, Robert Shipp and Cooper Simpson and sophomores Tayler Noble and Jordy Donoven.

"We have a good, solid group of kids that complement themselves very well," Pohle said. "They play really good team golf."

Thompsett, who is in line to be named this week as the player of the year in the Frontier, ranks 14th nationally with his stroke average of 72.29. He qualified for nationals as an individual last year, and was recognized as a third-team All-America performer.

Rocky's practice and tournament schedules have been impacted by inclement weather this spring.

However, "We're doing some things really, really well right now," Pohle said. "We're also needing to work on some things to kind of solidify our games from top to bottom.

"We're hitting the ball well, but we need to shore up our short game and mental toughness."

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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