Confidence is high for Ohio as it heads to the Mid-American Conference Championships fresh off its first tournament win as a team since 2014.
Ohio has placed in the top 5 of its last three events, having the two best three-round scores of the season. The Bobcats had all five of their golfers finish in the top 20 of the Dolores Black Falcon Invitational, which they won, and four of the five in the top 20 of their previous event, where they came in second.
"I think we have them in a position of confidence that will allow them to make the proper decisions, believe in themselves, trust themselves," head coach Kelly Ovington said.
Ohio already played at the MAC Championship course, the Silver Lake Country Club, for the Silver Lake Shootout in the fall. During the shootout, they learned about the course and its differences from other courses.
“It definitely helps because there is a few quirky holes on the course so it’s good to have played it a few times,” Emily Hughes said. “It’s going to play a little different just cause we're playing it in the spring as opposed to the fall.”
The Bobcats finished third in that tournament with a two-round score of 631, 55-over-par. The tournament consisted of five MAC teams so Ohio is not the only one with experience on the course, but it came away having learned about the course.
"We did not play that well in the fall, we walked away from there everyone learned a few things, had them write down the things they learned about the course so we'll be studying through that," Ovington said.
Kent State is the favorite going in. It is ranked 16th in the nation by Golfweek and has won the tournament every year since 1999. But last year was close, as Toledo was four strokes behind and Ohio 14 behind.
Hailey Hrynewich had the lowest single round score ever at a MAC Championship with a 67 last year, a score she has already beaten in a tournament this year.
Hrynewich and Hughes lead the Bobcats to a third-place finish last year with third- and tied for fourth-place finishes, respectively.
"Kent's a very strong team, and after that there is a huge pack of us that really anything can happen,” Ovington said. “We've all played against each other all season, we've beaten some teams, we've lost to some teams."
Ohio will need to string together three good rounds, something that has not happened often this year. The Bobcats have had single rounds that are some of the lowest scores in Ohio history, but have not gone lower than 900 this year, which they will likely need to do to finish near the top.