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Women’s Golf: Irish travel to Virginia for James Madison Invite

Fran Tolan | Friday, April 7, 2006

Notre Dame will travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia this weekend to take on several east-coast squads in the James Madison Invitational.

Two of the teams the Irish will face include conference rivals Georgetown and Rutgers.

“It will be good to see some Big East teams because that hardly ever happens,” Notre Dame head coach Debby King said of the event, which will be held at the Lakeview Golf Course in Harrisonburg.

But the Irish will not face any teams from the NCAA Central Region this weekend and are therefore more focused on maintaining a low scoring average than on competing with the field at the James Madison.

“We don’t get to face any more [NCAA Central Region] teams so we can’t improve our head-to-head ranking,” King said after the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational in Hawaii March 21-22.

Head-to-head record and overall team scoring average are the two criteria that are used to determine if a team is worthy of an NCAA tournament bid.

Notre Dame will begin first round play Saturday without the benefit of a practice round. The team’s flight will arrive in Harrisburg Friday evening, after the other teams have already finished their practice rounds and seen the course.

King said that she has printed out pictures of each hole of the course and distributed them to her players, although she realizes that her team will still be entering the tournament at a disadvantage.

“The first round of play will essentially be our practice round,” King stated.

However, the coach remains confident that her players are well-prepared.

“We’ve been getting good scores in practice all week,” she said.

King specifically cited the impressive play of senior co-captain Suzie Hayes, who had shot a 73 during Wednesday’s practice.

This weekend, as the team enters their final tournament before the Big East Championship, the Irish know that they have little margin for error if they want to attain their third NCAA berth in as many years.

“[The NCAA tournament] is so prestigious so it would definitely be a huge honor to be chosen again,” senior co-captain Katie Brophy said. “Hopefully, we can finish strong and get rewarded for it.”