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ND WOMEN’S GOLF: Irish host Notre Dame Invitational at Warren

Chris Khorey | Friday, September 9, 2005

The Notre Dame women’s golf team will open its season Saturday and Sunday with the Notre Dame Invitational at the Warren Golf Course.

The three-round tournament will host a field of 17 teams, including the Irish. Other field notables include Illinois, Western Michigan and Yale. Saint Mary’s will also cross U.S. 33 to compete.

Irish head coach Debbie King explained her reasoning in choosing which schools to invite.

“I usually invite Big East and Central Region teams,” she said. “Those are first priority. If none of them can make it, I start on the waiting list of schools around the country.”

Division I women’s golf is divided into three regions: East, Central and West. Teams need to beat as many schools as possible from their region to secure a bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament on Nov. 21.

Despite King’s attempts to bring in Big East opponents to the Invitational, only Georgetown and Notre Dame will be representing the conference at Warren this weekend. Former league member Boston College is making the trip, but the Eagles moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference after last spring.

While she likes to play Big East opponents early in the season, King says she will not use the Invitational to scout the Hoyas.

“We’ve played them many times, and we have a good idea of their caliber,” she said.

King said that opening the season at home is important for the psyche of the Irish.

“It’s the best way to start the season, especially for the freshmen just getting used to competition,” she said. “We don’t have to miss classes and we’re a little more comfortable at home.”

Teeing off for the Irish this weekend will be junior Noriko Nakazaki, senior Katie Brophy, sophomore Jane Lee and senior Suzie Hayes. The four veterans earned spots after a series of playoffs over the course of the preseason. Nakazaki and Brophy hold the two lowest stroke averages in Notre Dame history.

“We’ve had five rounds of qualifying since the first day of school,” King said. “It’s been a shootout for those top four spots.”

Three other players – senior Lauren Gebauer, junior Stacy Brown and freshman Courtney Sullivan – will compete in a playoff Friday for the fifth spot. King said the three were tied after the first five qualifying rounds.

Five Irish golfers will compete as individuals. Senior Sarah Bassett, sophomore Alejandra Diaz-Calderon and freshman Lisa Maunu will join the two golfers who do not earn a spot on Friday.

King also said she feels having the players compete for the top five spots and a chance to compete in tournaments is the most fair way to determine the team’s roster.

Butler, Indiana, IUPUI, Bradley, Western Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, Xavier, Winthrop and Bucknell will round out the field along with the Irish, Hoyas, Eagles, Broncos, Illini, Bulldogs and Belles.

Iowa State won the 2004 Notre Dame Invitational, but will not compete this year.