Marquette’s Rochester breaks through in college meet despite brutal weather to medal in Missouri

MARQUETTE – A move from the Upper Peninsula to Missouri sounds like heaven for a golfer, doesn’t it?

Apparently not this early in the spring for Columbia (Mo.) College freshman golfer Avery Rochester, who overcame a weather delay of more than two hours, then 30 mph winds gusting to 50 mph in Monday’s opening round of the William Woods University Spring Invitational in Fulton, Mo.

She shot 77 in those conditions, then tacked on 74 Tuesday when temperatures began in the 20s and topped out at about 50 degrees to earn medalist honors by four strokes with 151.

Seven schools, mostly NAIA Division I like Columbia, participated, though NCAA Division II Truman State also competed at Tanglewood Golf Course.

Rochester has been close to medaling in three of the previous four meets she’s competed in, taking third place twice last fall and then again last week.

Last week in her school’s opening meet of the season in unseasonably cool weather at the Lindenwood-Belleville Spring Invitational in Cape Girardeau, Mo., she managed a 13-over-par 157 on rounds of 81 and 76 and was named to the all-tournament team. She missed medalist honors by four strokes and was just one stroke out of second place.

In the fall, she was third at the Baker University Fall Invitational in September, carding a 23-over-par 80-89-169 and finishing six strokes behind the co-medalists, then shot a 21-over 83-80-163 at her own school’s Columbia Cougar Classic in October to come in four shots behind the co-medalists there.

Rochester found what she was looking for at Columbia.

“I wanted to go to a smaller school, and I wanted to get far away from home,” said the biology major via telephone just a few hours after her first individual collegiate win. “It’s a good change to meet completely new people, and when I got here, I didn’t know anybody.”

She was also interested in joining a program in just its second year coached by John Utley.

Rochester, the daughter of Northern Michigan University Golf Course manager Glen Rochester and, is also excited that she’s been offered a sponsor’s exemption to play in the Symetra Tour’s fourth annual Island Resort Championship to be played June 27-29 at the casino’s Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris.

That is the same tournament that former Marquette Senior High School teammate Carley Saint-Onge has played in several times. The Symetra Tour is the official developmental tour for the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

Rochester, 18, has won the past two U.P. Ladies Golf Association championships, defeating Saint-Onge, who now golfs at Michigan State University, for the 2013 title at Wawonowin Country Club in Ishpeming.

Rochester also won the MHSAA U.P. Division 1 high school girls individual title her junior and senior years at MSHS in 2012 and 2013.