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ND Women’s Golf: Young Irish squad begins season in East Lansing

By Isaac Lorton | Friday, September 14, 2012

The young Irish team will be coming out swinging this weekend as it looks to topple tough competition in the 28th annual Mary Fossum Invitational.

Sixteen teams will participate in the season-opening match in East Lansing, Mich. A strong field at the beginning of the year will provide the Irish with an early glimpse of how they will compete in their upcoming season, Irish coach Susan Holt said.

“This tournament will certainly give us an opportunity to see where we will be at,” Holt said. “Purdue is consistently in the top-25 and has gone to the finals the past seven years. [Purdue] won the title a few years back. Michigan State will also be there, and they are a hard team to beat at home. It will be a good test for us right out of the gate. [Despite being a young team] it is important no matter what the situation that we get out to a hot start.”

The No. 22 Boilermakers represent highly-ranked opposition, and the Spartans have won in seven of the past 10 years at their home course. The circumstances facing inexperienced Irish freshmen Lindsey Weaver, Talia Campbell and Katherine Guo do not faze Holt, she said.

“I expect them to do well,” Holt said of her freshman trio. “They are very experienced. They have been playing in national tournaments for a number of years. It’s just another golf tournament for them. That’s the way they have to look at it. They should have no problem; it’s just another round of golf.”

Holt said her returning players – junior Kristina Nhim and sophomores Ashley Armstrong and Kelli Oride – will be the strong foundation the team needs. Nhim is a two-time All-Big East honoree, while Armstrong was the Big East Freshman of the Year in 2012 and took first in the Big East tournament. The three returning players put up a stroke average of 77.3 in the 2011-2012 season.

“They are ultimately the most experienced in collegiate competition,” Holt said. “Between them, they have played in every tournament since they have been at Notre Dame. They will be our consistent contributors day-to-day. If they put up the numbers they are capable of, we should compete. We have the depth on our team for [consistency] not to be an issue. One girl may have a bad day, but we have the depth that the four others should have good rounds.”

Looking past this first tournament, Holt said the team has high goals for the season. In a recent meeting the team went over in reverse order what they want to achieve this year.

“We had a meeting and went through our goals,” Holt said. “Year-to-year they tend to be the same. We work backwards with our goals. Our final goal is to reach the [NCAA] finals. We want to win the Big East. Then it goes down to the 10 tournaments that we are going to try and post top-five finishes in and have our stroke total under 300. We want to put ourselves in a good position in April and May to compete for a national championship.”

The Irish will tee off at the 6,326-yard, par-72 Forest Akers West Course in East Lansing this Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.