ATHENS, Ohio– The Ohio women's golf team returns to action this weekend when they head to Ypsilanti, Mich. for the 2018 Shirley Spork EMU Invitational, hosted by Eastern Michigan. The two-day event will take place Monday, Oct. 8 and Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the 6,170-yard Eagle Crest Golf Club. Par is set at 72, with both days scheduled to begin with a 9 a.m. shotgun start.
The 10 teams that will compete at this year's tournament include: Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Cleveland State, Eastern Michigan, Loyola University, Oakland, Ohio, Purdue Fort Wayne, Western Michigan, Dayton, while Michigan will have two players competing as independents.
Competing for the Bobcats at this year's event are seniors Emily Hughes (Columbus, Ohio), Nicole Smiley (Dublin, Ohio) and Hannah Travis (Lancaster, Ohio), junior Marissa Balish (Allison Park, Pa.) and freshman Catherine Loftus (Roswell, Ga.), while sophomore Ashley Flynn (Dublin, Ohio) will compete as an individual.
Through the first three tournaments of the season, Hughes has led Ohio, finishing in the top-10 in two out of three events for the Bobcats, while averaging a 75.22 stroke average. Hughes has also recorded rounds of 70 and 71 for the Bobcats this season. Smiley has also been solid for the Bobcats, averaging a 77.00 stroke average through the first nine rounds of play.
Last year at the Shirley Spork Invitational, the Bobcats finished in sixth place, finishing with a three-round total of 934 (+70). Lily Pendy was the top finishing Bobcat, who placed 12thafter a tournament total of 229 (+13). Smiley finished in 24thplace, followed by Balish in 24thand Hughes in 41st. Meanwhile Flynn finished in 44th, with Travis concluding competition in 47thplace.
Last year, Marshall was crowned as the inaugural champion with an 896, while Western Michigan's Julia Champion was the individual medalist with a 218.
The tournament is in honor of Shirley Spork, who was the first female inducted into the E-Club Hall of Fame in 1981, Shirley Spork began her golf career early in life. She started playing with one club, a putter, at age 10 when she lived near Bonnie Brook Golf Course in Detroit, Mich. Throughout high school, Spork would participate in the annual City Championship at Palmer Park Municipal, which was only a nine-hole event. While attending then-MSNC, Spork won the Women's District Match Play Championship three times in four years. In 1947, she was the winner of the first-ever National Collegiate Championship held for women's athletics, plus she was the victor of the 1949 Michigan Amateur.
After graduation, Spork became a teacher in the Detroit public schools, but realized she would much rather be playing golf. She turned professional in 1950 and played the tour but along the way, realized she still was a teacher and in 1959 along with Marilynn Smith, Betty Hicks and Barbara Rotvig, she founded the LPGA's Teaching and Club Professional Division. Spork was the first LPGA professional to conduct golf clinics in foreign countries and was a two-time LPGA Teacher of the Year (1959, 1984). She was the chairperson of the LPGA T&CP Division from 1960-66, and received the Meritorious Service Award in 1989 and the Byron Nelson Award in 1994.
Fans can follow along with live results on Golfstat.com
Up next, the Bobcats will conclude the fall portion of their schedule Sunday, Oct. 14 through Monday, Oct. 15 at the 2018 Fall Preview. The two-day event is hosted by Central Michigan at the Purgatory Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind.