Loyola golfer Elayna Bowser is coming off of a strong summer, one that included qualifying for the U.S. Women’s amateur. Taking that experience into her senior year, Bowser is off to a strong start.
The Loyola women’s golf team kicked off its fall campaign Sept. 9-10 in Normal for the Redbird Invitational. While the team tied for ninth out of fourteenth place with University of Evansville, Bowser was a bright spot for the Ramblers, finishing with a 221 (75-74-72) to place fifth. Bowser’s score broke Loyola’s 54-hole school record, passing former teammate Jessie Staed’s mark of 224.
“It meant a lot to put three solid rounds together at one event, which I haven’t really done in the past,” Bowser said. “It showed how much better I have improved over the years with getting my consistency there and having my bad round only be a 75.”
Bowser also took home Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Golfer of the Week honors for the first time in her career, and she said she’s still focused on taking things one week at a time.
“It was a nice accomplishment,” Bowser said. “Hopefully there’s more of that to come, but I’m just trying to play week by week to my potential.”
This past summer, Bowser qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur, which is the top women’s amateur tournament in the U.S., taking place in Tennessee Aug. 6-12. She was the first Loyola golfer to ever qualify for this event, according to Loyola Athletics. Qualifiers took place across the U.S. and internationally, and Bowser qualified in her home state of Michigan. After shooting a 72, she would find herself in a playoff with five people, with only three spots left in order to advance.
Bowser ended up with a birdie on the playoff hole, punching her ticket to Tennessee for the tournament. She attributed her confidence this season to playing on such a big stage this summer.
“It was an experience that I’ll never forget and showed me a lot about my game and potential,” Bowser said. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted there, but it assured me that I could play in a national tournament against nationally ranked players. Overall it gave me the confidence which I think has carried on into this year as well.”
Head coach Carly Werwie said she knows how much it means to have a player like Bowser on her team because her success benefits her teammates, as well.
“I think it’s exciting because not only does she help the team, but it’s fun to see someone excel individually,” Werwie said. “Overall she’s a great team player. Everyone gets along great and it’s fun because I think she motivates some players to do better but at the same time other players are always congratulating her as well, so it’s a really good dynamic.”
Sophomore Abbey Meyers said she’s taken notice of Bowser’s commitment to excellence and how that pushes the rest of the team.
“It’s really inspiring,” Meyers said. “It makes all of us work a lot harder, seeing her work ethic.”
Meyers is coming off of carding her personal 18-hole career low on back-to-back days at the Redbird Invitational, posting scores of 79 and 77. Along with Meyers’ performance, Bowser said she saw flashes of success from her teammates at the Redbird Invitational despite the ninth-place finish, which she said has her optimistic heading into the Loyola Fall Invitational Sept. 17-18.
“There were many positive signs early in the tournament,” Bowser said. “We talked about the mistakes we made as a team the second day and how we can improve on that. Hopefully limiting the big numbers will keep us on top of the leaderboard.”
At the Loyola Fall Invitational Sept. 17-18, Bowser finished first overall, individually, out of 71 golfers with a score of 222 (76-70-76) while the team finished tied for second out of 12 teams. Bowser and the Ramblers are scheduled to head to Pontiac, Michigan for the Golden Grizzlies Invitational Sept. 24-25.