PSU golf teams with new coach for high hopes

After their first taste of competition and the addition of a new head coach, the Portland State men’s and women’s golf teams look to rebuild this season.

New head coach Felicia Johnston has the experience to lead both teams to a championship. Coaching for three years at Northern Arizona, Johnston’s team captured five tournament titles and two Big Sky Conference Championships.

“We’re in transition,” Johnston stated in a press release of the women’s team. “Without having a lot of new players join our program this year we don’t have any depth.”

Along with shallow depth, the women’s team will miss Melissa O’Meara who graduated this past year.

Returning for the team is Taya Battistella who finished 74th at the NCAA’s Women’s Golf West Regional Tournament and won the Big Sky Conference Championship in April. Her top finish at the championship helped PSU place third, its best finish in the program’s four year history.

This Monday, Battistella led the team to a 12th place finish at the Pioneer Highlands Ranch Intercollegiate Tournament. It was PSU’s first competitive tournament of the year.

Portland State shot 641 overall in two rounds on the 6,252 yard, par 72 Highlands Ranch Golf Course. Host University of Denver won the tournament with a team score of 599.

Other Big Sky Conference schools who competed were Weber State and Northern Arizona.

Despite playing with a bad back, senior Taya Battistella shot a 71 on the day for an 82-71 (153) score. She tied for 21st among 72 individuals competing.

Redshirt freshman Sarah Tiller had shot an impressive 74 in her first round Monday, but faltered with an 89 on Tuesday. She tied for 60th. Bobbie Dunn, a junior, shot 81-79 (160) to tie for 55th. Senior Lisa Zimmer shot 86-79 (165) to place 65th.

Portland State’s next tournament is the Lady Vandal Fall Classic, next Monday and Tuesday in Moscow, Idaho.

On the men’s side, eight players returning from a second place conference finish last year shows a candidacy for the Big Sky Championship.

“I think finishing in second place at the conference championship last spring left a bitter taste in their mouths,” Johnston said. “In their hearts they probably feel they could have and should have won the championship.”

The three key players for the men’s team will be seniors Brodie Jordan, Tyler Daniels and junior Doug Nelson. Jordan and Nelson both earned All-Big Sky Conference honors last season with a third and sixth place finish at the Big Sky Championship.

A final round 298 allowed the men’s golf team to move up to a 14th-place finish at the Vandal Fall Classic on Tuesday. Behind the leadership of Nelson, the team was able to improve its standings by five places.

After a poor first round, the Vikings came back to post 314-294-298 (906) to tie for 14th. Washington State won the tournament, shooting 278-280-281 (839) over the 6,637 yard, par 71 University of Idaho Course.

Nelson shot a career-low 67 in the second round and finished with a 71 to tie for 11th. Jordan’s 81-72-74 (227) moved him up to a tie for 66th in the field of 108.

Gordy Scutt of Washington won the tournament by two strokes with 71-66-66 (203).

PSU returns to competition on this Monday at the Rocky Mountain Men’s Intercollegiate in Brighton, Colorado.