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Experienced leadership catapults team to top of Big East

Chris Michalski | Thursday, October 1, 2009

Most teams at the collegiate level from year to year have to deal with losing seniors and replacing them with untested freshmen. The Notre Dame women’s golf team, however, is not facing that issue this fall.

Losing only one senior from last year, Lisa Mauna, the Irish feature one of the most talented and experienced teams in the Big East. The Irish didn’t pick up any freshmen this year, but rather have a starting lineup of two seniors, two juniors, and one sophomore.

Leading the way is senior Annie Brophy, who is easily the most experienced player on the roster. Brophy has played in every competitive round in her Notre Dame career, which comes out to a total of more than 100 rounds of golf.

“Annie came in and was a good player within the junior rankings, but I think she has just progressed nicely over the last few years and positioned herself well within college golf,” Irish coach Susan Holt said. “I think her progression in her game over the years has allowed her to step into that leadership year and be one someone that people can look up to.”

This progression culminated in a tangible accomplishment her sophomore year, a Big East individual championship, which coach Holt described as the “turning point” in her production. 

“I think she kind of validated herself as a player,” said Holt. “I thought she responded well to [being the Big East champion] last year and I’ve been real pleased with her play so far this year.

Brophy’s best finish so far this season was 14th in the Bettie Lou Invitational.

Junior So-Hyun Park has also provided consistent scores and quality leadership for the Irish. Park currently has Notre Dame’s best career stroke average with 74.82 and recently posted the top score of four over par for the Irish at the Bettie Lou Invitational.

This strong leadership is something of utmost importance for the team’s success, but their experience lends itself to even more. Playing a number of the same tournaments from last season, many of the Irish players have experience on these courses.

Although the Irish fielded the same lineup for the Mary Fossum Invitational as they did last year, it did not equate to improved scores.

“Typically you’d like to think that having prior knowledge of a course would certainly help you prepare for an event,” said Holt. “There is a mental preparation advantage to playing a course that you have seen before.”

The Irish will be on an even playing field with their opponents in the next tournament, as they did not have the opportunity to compete in the Windy City Collegiate tournament last year. Nevertheless, the Irish possess the necessary skill and leadership to surpass the competition.

The first round of the Collegiate is scheduled to begin on Monday.