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ND WOMEN’S GOLF: Youth key in weekend tee-off

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 15, 2005

The Notre Dame women’s golf team travels to Columbus, Ohio this weekend for the Lady Buckeye Invitational, its third of four tournaments in the month of April.

Despite the rough stretch that includes a tournament away from South Bend every week this month, Irish coach Debbie King is not worried about her team tiring.

“They’re all drive trips so it’s not too bad,” King said. “Plus, I’ve been going light on practice during the week.”

The tournament features 15 teams, all of whom the Irish have faced already this season. Six of the 15 – Notre Dame, Ohio State, Kent State, Purdue, Michigan State and Northwestern – are ranked in the top 50 in the nation by golfstat.com. Ohio State leads the field with a No. 13 ranking. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the Irish come into the tournament a woeful 1-10-1 against those opponents.

The good news is the Irish are 22-0 against the remainder of the field – Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Marshall, Ohio University, Penn State, Toledo and Western Michigan.

King is not worried by the disparity between the top and bottom of the field.

“We don’t really look at stats like that,” King said. “Golf is so much day to day, any team can beat any other on any day.”

Taking the course this week for the Irish will be junior Katie Brophy, sophomore Stacy Brown, senior Karen Lotta, sophomore Noriko Nakazaki, freshman Jane Lee and junior Suzie Hayes. The young lineup is not new for the Irish.

Getting the youth experience will also help the Irish in coming years.

“Our goal is to get into the top 25,” King said. “We seem to be improving each year.”

The Lady Buckeye Invitational is played every year at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course, one of the most difficult courses the Irish will play this year.

“Ohio State’s Scarlet Course is known to be one of the toughest in the country,” King said. “However, if you look at some of the past events we’ve played in, our team plays well in tough conditions, like bad weather or a hard course.”

King explained the Scarlet Course challenges golfers in several ways.

“It’s fairly hilly and long,” King said. “It’s also tight on quite a few holes. You have to hit it long and straight at the same time.”