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Irish positive despite slow start

Eric Retter | Friday, March 19, 2004

Irish coach Debby King still remains very optimistic about her women’s golf team. Even witnessing them turn in their worst performance of the 2003-2004 campaign last weekend, King is still enthusiastic about her team’s chances of competing in their first NCAA tournament. “I still feel very confident about the season,” King said. “I think we can make a nice recovery in Texas.”The Irish need to improve their play as they travel to Boerne, Texas, to compete in the prestigious Baylor/Tapatio Springs Shootout at the Tapatio Spring golf resort. King’s team will face stiff competition from 19 teams this weekend and 14 from their own central region. The Irish, ranked 50th in the most recent Golf Week/Sagarin index ratings, will face three higher-ranked teams in Missouri (30), Baylor (39) and Indiana (46). Twelve teams in the field, including Notre Dame, can boast top-100 rankings in the Golf Week polls. To improve on their eighth place finish last year at this event, the Irish hope for another strong Shootout performance from sophomore Katie Brophy, who led the team last year with a 19 over par 235 at this event. “It’s too early to say anything for sure right now” King said. “Katie’s been playing really well.”King also had good things to say about freshman Noriko Nakazaki, who leads the team in stroke average, with just under 75 strokes a round. “She’s really been great for us,” King said about her budding first-year star. Rounding out her scoring five, King made some alterations from last weekend’s lineup, replacing senior co-captain Shannon Byrne and freshman Stacey Brown with sophomores Lauren Gebauer and Sarah Bassett, who both participated last weekend as individuals. If they play as well as they did last weekend, this move should strengthen the Irish team. Gebauer turned in a team-low 237 to tie for 19th, with Bassett right behind her tied for 24th after her 239, second best on the team. Junior Karen Lotta will also join them in competing for Notre Dame’s scoring five. The tournament begins this morning and will last through Sunday. Play will begin at 8:30 a.m. each day, with seedings and tee times for Saturday and Sunday determined by each teams standings at the end of the previous day.