Women’s golf freshman stands out

BY J.T. BUGOS | OCTOBER 08, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s golf team concluded play at the Johnnie Imes Invitational in Columbia, Mo., on Tuesday, finishing 16th out of 18 teams and continuing their early season struggles.

Wisconsin won the tournament with a final team score of 909 (45 over). Tulsa followed the Badgers with 912, while host Missouri finished third with 913.

Iowa’s three-round score was 961.

After the tournament, Iowa head coach Kelly Crawford said the team’s start has been frustrating because the team’s tremendous potential has yet to strike the white, dimpled ball.

“We continue to give birdie opportunities away and struggle to convert relatively routine up-and-downs,” she said. “We are much better than our scores have shown. I feel we are close to putting it all together, and when that happens, the opportunities will be endless.”

Crawford said the team has prepared very well and worked hard in practice, but the Hawkeyes’ dedication has yet to translate into tournament wins. She noted Iowa’s short game will continue to be emphasized, and the Hawks are making better decisions on the course than in previous tournaments.

A loss of confidence might also be the culprit, and the head coach will address that before Iowa hosts the Hawkeye Invitational, Oct. 17-18.

One player who may be gaining confidence, though, is freshman Kristi Cardwell. The Kokomo, Ind., native led the Hawkeyes in each of the three rounds, posting scores of 77, 73, and 81. Cardwell’s score of 231 tied her for 24.

Crawford said the first-year player was in position to finish in the top five with a solid third round, but unfortunately wasn’t able to produce the score she wanted.

“A missed short putt appeared to upset Kristi,” Crawford said. “From there, her emotions got to her, and it cost her several more shots. She is a solid player, and when she learns to control her emotions, she will learn to attack the course after a bad shot.”

After the first three tournaments, Crawford is looking for someone to grasp the team’s No. 1 spot.

Through three tournaments, the team has had five different players take the low score in nine total rounds of play.

Junior Brianna Coopman doesn’t see that as the lack of an elite player but a result of determination from every member of the team.

“I can tell no one is content with where she is at, and we are all fighting to be No. 1,” Coopman said. “Maybe that is why there is more even play on the team this year.”

Cardwell and junior Laura Cilek are the only players to lead the Hawkeyes in an individual round more than once, but Crawford doesn’t think the two are the only Hawkeyes who can elevate their game.

“The No. 1 spot is there for the taking,” she said. “It’s a matter of who wants it more, and most importantly, who wants to keep it. Being No. 1 on the team shouldn’t be a scary concept, but rather an honor fought hard for, and a respect earned and well deserved.”

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