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Golf: Leland focuses on positives after 13th place finish

Alexandria's Maggie Leland had to adjust her goals after a tough first day at the Division II National Golf Championship last Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky.

Leland had her sights set on competing for a national title heading into the event, but an 85 on day one all but ended those hopes as she went into day two tied for 37th.

"It was hard," she said. "I was really upset after the round, but I kind of just had to change my goal a little bit. I was 13 shots back to a girl who's not going to make many mistakes...I changed my goal to a top 15. It was very disappointing, but at the end of the tournament I was really happy with how I did."

Leland made up a lot of ground over the final three days to finish tied for 13th with a 27-over 315. She improved each round, shooting a 79 on day two before closing out the tournament with a 76 and 75 on Friday and Saturday. Minnewaska's Allie Ostrander tied for 27th at the meet with a 35-over 323 as both players helped Augustana finish 10th out of 12 teams.

Leland was able to clean up some of the problems that plagued her in her opening round. She finished with four double bogeys on Wednesday as she struggled to get a feel for the Persimmon Ridge Golf Course and the difficult pin placements. Her biggest problems came on the green, where she missed a number of short putts that affected her confidence.

Leland went to the putting green to try and get her stroke back after getting over the disappointment. She found that stroke over the final few days and finished strong by birdying three of her last four holes.

"Besides a few holes, I putted really well [after day one]," Leland said. "There's not one single hole on that golf course where you can step up and know you're going to shoot a par. It's a very shot-by-shot golf course, probably the most difficult course I've ever played."

Leland hopes to use this experience as a springboard going into next fall. She made a name for herself on the national scene during just her sophomore season.

Near the top of her list of goals was being named first-team All-America. The National Golf Coaches Association recognized her with that, along with All-Central Region honors, when they announced the awards on Sunday.

It was the final accolade in a long list of honors for Leland. She was also named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Golfer of the Year. She was the conference medalist at the NSIC Championship and named conference player of the week five times. There is a lot to build on going into next season.

"I still have to try to keep looking forward toward next year and try to get the NCAA Player of the Year," Leland said. "But it was awesome. It probably hasn't even all sunk in yet."

Leland was on her way back to Alexandria on Monday morning where she planned to start working on her game right away. She will play in the U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying tournament at the Wayzata Country Club next Tuesday.

She'll also try to win a second Women's Division title at the Resorters Tournament in August. It's all a part of the process in her quest to become the best player on the Division II scene.

"That was my goal this year," she said. "That's not going to change. I've already had a sit down with my coach and talked about what I'm going to do this summer to better my game. I'm looking forward to getting back there, developing a few more shots around the green, learning to hit a cut and playing in a lot of tournaments."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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