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ND WOMEN’S GOLF:King flattered by IU tourney berth

Chris Khorey | Friday, September 23, 2005

Coming off a win at home in the Notre Dame Invitational, the Irish women’s golf team will travel to Bloomington this weekend for the Lady Northern Invitational, hosted by Indiana University.

Traditionally a Big Ten tournament, the Lady Northern will feature each team from that conference except Ohio State, plus Notre Dame and Illinois State.

Irish coach Debby King said being invited to the Lady Northern is a compliment to teams from the Great Lakes Region.

“We are very fortunate that in the last two years they’ve invited Notre Dame to [the tournament],” King said.

King said the top teams in the tournament are Michigan and Michigan State, followed by Purdue and Northwestern. The Irish are ranked just behind the Wildcats.

“We’re going into the tournament probably fifth,” King said. “But it’s close. It’s anyone’s game. It’s a matter of will.”

Notre Dame was relatively successful against the Big Ten last year, going 28-20-1. Indiana and Illinois competed in the Notre Dame Inviational two weeks ago.

The Illini finished seventh, while the Hoosiers finished 10th. Indiana, however, features senior Shannon Johnson, who tied for first on the individual scorecard.

The Irish last played in Bloomington last spring at the Indiana Invitational. Notre Dame won the event as then-sophomore Noriko Nagazaki earned her first career collegiate individual victory.

Nagazaki will lead the Irish into competition again this weekend.

Two weeks ago she paced Notre Dame with a score of 223, which tied her with Johnson for first and earned her an exemption into the Lady Northern.

Five other golfers – Laura Maunu, Katie Brophy, Lauren Gebauer, Jane Lee and Suzie Hayes – earned their way onto Notre Dame’s competing team this week through a series of qualifiers. The top four finishers will have their score count toward their team’s total.

“With 10 players on the team, usually you can only take five or six to a tournament,” King said. “You have qualifiers and that decides who competes each week.”

Junior Stacy Brown was the next best golfer in qualifying and will compete as an individual in Bloomington.

Nagazaki earned her exemption for this week by finishing in the top six of the Notre Dame Invitaional. Due to stiffer competition, the exemption range will be larger for the Lady Northern.

“The exemption status for this tournament, because it’s a tougher field, is easier,” King said. “Last week it was the top six, this week it’s the top [twelve golfers].”

Last year’s Lady Northern was held in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Irish finished tied for eighth in that tournament.