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ND Women’s Golf: Irish golfers tee off season in sunny Fla.

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 8, 2008

No. 20 Notre Dame looks to refocus as it kicks off the season this weekend at the annual Florida Fling Alumni Golf Tournament.

Hosted by the Notre Dame Club of Tampa, the Florida Fling offers a chance for the Irish golfers to pair up with alumni and play a friendly 18 holes at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa on Saturday.

“This is an opportunity for the student-athletes to get to know some Notre Dame alumni and establish some relationships,” Irish coach Susan Holt said. “We had a good time last year in Orlando, involving quite a few of our former athletes.”

Notre Dame begins its spring slate after a strong first half of the season, winning its first three tournaments and finishing second and fourth in its final two. In its mid-season awards, Golf World named the Irish the most surprising women’s team and freshman So-Hyun Park the surprising female player. Park leads the team with a 72.53 scoring average over 15 rounds, on pace to break the single-season Notre Dame record of 74.71.

“As a group, we’re right on target,” Holt said. “As a team, at the beginning of the year, we set high goals. People on the outside might be surprised, but we aren’t. We made a commitment to do exactly what we’re doing. We’re on track.”

The Irish enter the Fling after a three-month break during which Holt inked a solid recruiting class – recruits Katie Allare (Xavier Prep, Ariz.) and Becca Huffer (Littleton High School, Colo.). Huffer is ranked 17th nationally in the 2008 class, according to GolfWeek and was named the 2006 Colorado Player of the Year.

“Both [Allare and Huffer] are great players,” Holt said. “They’re both going to make an immediate impact and continue the trend we’re on right now, which is good, we’re getting better.”

Neither the three-month break nor the miserable South Bend weather has slowed Notre Dame’s practice schedule, and Holt looks optimistically at Notre Dame’s spring season.

“We’re able to work on our short game indoors at our new practice facility and work on our driving outdoors,” Holt said. “We’re still able to get solid practice in spite of the weather. We’re keeping focused on each tournament as it approaches. We’re trying to get better every day. We were successful in the fall and we’re trying to keep doing what we’re doing.”