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ND Women’s Golf: Irish get hot with 35-stroke win at St. Croix

Brennan, Kevin | Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Things really heated up for the Notre Dame women’s golf team during spring break. The Irish headed south to the Virgin Islands and won the St. Croix Collegiate Classic by an impressive 35 shots.

Notre Dame finished the tournament with a three day total of 919. The Irish closed strong, shooting a 15-over par 303 in Sunday’s final round. The team recorded scores of 307 and 309 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Xavier, the tournament’s host school, finished second with a score of 954.

Coach Debbie King expected her team would rebound from a disappointing 13th-place finish in February’s Central District Championship.

“We knew it was a semi-weak field,” King said. “We knew we were the favorites, so we had to set some personal goals. We were trying to shoot three or four over or better each day. We came pretty close to that.”

One member of the Irish certainly fulfilled her goals on Sunday. Sophomore Stacy Brown finished with a 12-over par 228 for her first independent collegiate tournament victory. Brown’s performance inspired and excited the rest of the Notre Dame team.

“She has had a few chances in the past, and she really did it this time, so it was really exciting,” junior co-captain Katie Brophy said. “Plus, we all love Stacy so it was really easy to be happy for her.”

Finishing right behind Brown was her classmate Noriko Nakazaki. Nakazaki recorded a second place score of 229, highlighted by a third round one-under-par 71.

Freshman Jane Lee also contributed to the Notre Dame victory. On Saturday, Lee shot an Irish tournament-low 70, her first ever collegiate round under par. Her performance, combined with those of Brown and Nakazaki, underscored the strides being made by the young members of the Irish.

“It’s definitely evident that coach has gotten really strong recruiting classes in the past years,” Brophy said. “They’re not only good golfers, but they are really good teammates and people. It’s really easy to be on a team with them.”

While the team was pleased with its victory, the Irish also see room for improvement.

“A win is a win. We are definitely excited to take that. But as far as our overall performance, we know that we can definitely do better.” Brophy said.

King stressed the team needs to play with more consistency and remain in a positive mental state. The coach hopes to build off this victory as Notre Dame’s postseason resume still needs a bit of padding.

The Irish are looking to secure a second straight trip to the NCAA Central Regional Championship, which will be held in Lubbock, Texas from May 5-7. The Big East conference does not have an automatic bid, so the team needs to receive an at-large invitation. For this to happen, the Irish should finish around the top 40 in the rankings. Notre Dame currently sits on the bubble, with a ranking of 41 heading into the St. Croix Collegiate Classic.

“We’re looking to build from our win and come in with a lot lower scores in the next four tournaments,” Brophy said. “We hope to gain more confidence in our golf games and win bigger tournaments.”

Notre Dame’s drive for the Regional Championship will continue on April 2 and 3 at the Indiana Invitational in Bloomington. The Irish will look to duplicate this weekend’s success against a more competitive field.