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ND Women’s Golf: First fall tourney awaits young team

Lorenzo Reyes | Friday, September 7, 2007

After a solid 2006-07 campaign, Notre Dame is looking to improve in several areas to make a run toward victories this fall.

The Irish ended last season with a second-place finish in the Big East championship after a tense playoff with Louisville and failed to qualify for the NCAA Regionals.

Notre Dame’s first tournament of the season, the Cougar Classic, will begin Sunday and end Tuesday. Hosted by the University of South Carolina in Charleston, the young Irish squad will try to prove its worth.

One of the team’s senior leaders, Noriko Nakazaki, graduated after last season and left a void in the team’s leadership.

Coach Susan Holt said she hopes her team’s depth can make up for Nakazaki’s loss.

“We have a lot of good players out there,” she said. “The important thing is for everyone to fulfill their talent level that they are capable of. We have some solid depth in our top five this year so we don’t need to rely on one player to post a high number.”

The lineup for the Cougar Classic will feature sophomore Kristin Wetzel from the No. 1 spot. Wetzel was a key contributor last season, participating in all 10 events during her rookie campaign. She became one of the most consistent golfers with her 78.22 scoring average.

The second and third spots of the lineup will belong to a pair of freshmen – Katie Conway from Wading River, New York, and So-Hyun Park from Seoul, South Korea. The rookies will be facing the pressure of their first collegiate performance this weekend.

Shooting fourth will be junior Lisa Maunu. Maunu was an important factor for the Irish last season with a 78.04 scoring average – good for fourth on the team. One of her most memorable performances was her 10th place finish in the conference championships, which earned her All-Big East honors.

Finishing off the group will be sophomore Annie Brophy, who looks to build on a strong freshman season in which she recorded the second-best scoring average on the team and sixth-best in program history with a 77.04. Her third-place finish at the Big East championship solidified her spot as a talented young golfer in the program.

Holt stressed the importance of practice, specifically on the short game.

“Since it’s the first tournament of the season, we just wanted to get out there and play as much golf as we could,” Holt said. “We’ve been working a lot on our short game of 100 yards and shorter. Specifically our wedge shots, bunker play and putting.

“… With the depth and the talent we have, as long as we get everybody on the same page, which I know we can do we can achieve all our goals. But our strength is definitely each other.”