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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 13, 2018 1:00 am

Local golfers paired up in college tourney

Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette

When Casey Bunner walks to the first tee this morning at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend for the Bethel Pilot Invitational's first round, the Blackhawk graduate and Mount Vernon Nazarene freshman will find a familiar playing partner.

She's been paired with her sister, Bethel junior and fellow Blackhawk alum Jaycee Bunner, who said she's “excited” for the opportunity.

“We usually play a lot together during the summer, so I'm excited to play,” Jaycee said. “I'm just trying to look at it as another day on the course.”

Casey described a number of emotions in her mind as the event approaches, with the ultimate goal of today's round providing as much normalcy as the situation can allow.

“I've never played with her before in a tournament, so it's going to be different,” Casey said. “I think it'll definitely be weird. I don't think it'll feel like we're just practicing, but hopefully it'll just feel like any other tournament.”

At the Ohio Valley University Invitational two weeks ago, in just her second tournament ever for MVNU, Casey became the first woman in school history to earn medalist honors, winning by six strokes. Her opening-round 75 also provided a new water mark for the Cougars.

Jaycee, who transferred from NCAA Division II Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, to Bethel after the 2017 school year, wasted little time establishing her reputation for the Pilots. She finished eighth at the NCCAA National Championship in October, earning All-American honors to propel Bethel to fifth in the team standings.

Weather has limited course time for the sisters, wiping out the MVNU Invitational last weekend while snow has prevented Bethel at times from practicing.

“It's hard to get out very much, but I'm looking forward to (the tournament),” Jaycee said.

With temperatures forecast to reach the low 70s at Blackthorn today, will the sibling rivalry heat up this week as well? Perhaps, though it likely won't include the winner gloating.

“I don't think we're really going to talk much about it,” Casey said. “I think we'll both probably be pretty humble.”