Far more than par for woman golfer

BY J.T. BUGOS | AUGUST 21, 2009 7:07 AM

Many collegiate athletes are eyeing the next level. In football, basketball, and baseball, players will leave college early to get their shot at professional sports.

Alison Cavanaugh does not play golf to move on to the LPGA — she plays because she loves the game.

The 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship started Aug. 3, and Cavanaugh was in St. Louis participating. While the Hawkeye senior didn’t make the cut, the tournament was still a great experience.

“It was incredible. It was the neatest tournament I’ve ever been to,” she said. “Really tough conditions, but it felt great to score OK on that.”

Cavanaugh went into the tournament expecting to do well, but she didn’t have all aspects of her game working.

“Par was a great score out there on any hole,” she said. “I think I left a few strokes out there. My driver let me down, but I felt really confident in my short game and about the recovery shots I had.”

The short game is something Cavanaugh is working on improving for this season. Head coach Kelly Crawford agrees Cavanaugh could work on that, too.

“I think she can improve on her putting average and shots around the green to give her more chances for pars,” she said.

Improving is something that Cavanaugh has done her whole career. Crawford noted Cavanaugh’s great work ethic and said she might have improved more than any other player she has ever coached.

“She’s always had a great attitude on the golf course. I don’t believe she makes bad decisions on the course; it’s just sometimes the execution isn’t there,” Crawford said, but added, “She doesn’t appear to let things get to her and does a good job of letting go of bad shots.”

A perfect example of Cavanaugh’s level-headedness was last year at the Hawkeye Invitational.

Cavanaugh played poorly one day and struggled the first few holes the next day, but she rebounded with a career-best of 73.

She hopes her calm demeanor will rub off on her teammates. Being the only senior on the team, she expects to be a leader.

“I always try to lead by example,” she said. “As a senior, I’ve got it pretty much figured out, and it should be a great year.”

Cavanaugh is shooting to be the No. 1 golfer on the team, and Crawford would be ecstatic to see that happen.

“As a senior, I think she’s got the potential, the talent, and the desire to be our No. 1,” Crawford said.

Cavanaugh has high hopes for this season, including winning the Hawkeye Invitational, the only home tournament for Iowa this season.

After this season, she doesn’t plan on trying to make the pros. The Amateur Championship didn’t push her to want to join those ranks, but rather reinforced why she still, and will continue to, play the game.

“It was just really neat to play with a bunch of amateurs,” Cavanaugh said. “But that’s the point. You’re amateurs, so you play the game because you love it.”

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