Women’s golf heads to warmer climates for last fall tournament

BY J.T. BUGOS | NOVEMBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s golf team will leave the chilly scenes of Iowa City weather behind when it heads to the relative warmth of Austin, Texas, for the Challenge at Onion Creek.

The Hawkeyes will face 20 other teams, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa State.

Juniors Laura Cilek, Brianna Coopman, and Lauren Forbes, along with sophomore Chelsea Harris and freshman Kristi Cardwell will travel to Iowa’s last tournament of the fall season.

In addition to the 20 teams, which Iowa head coach Kelly Crawford said could be the best field the Hawkeyes will face all year, Iowa had to battle the weather in Iowa City to get practices in.

Crawford said the team missed a few days because of the cold and inability to get on the dampened Finkbine Golf Course. She does feel the team got some quality practices in and did some positive work, which Crawford hopes will help the team strike the potential she keeps waiting for.

“You just layer up, and you go out and get your work in because sometimes just an hour of good quality practice is better than four hours of not great quality,” Crawford said. “Unfortunately, we have to compete in bad weather, so you have to practice in it. You just deal with what happens, and fortunately, we have enough rain gear and warm weather here that they can put on some warm clothes and get out there and practice.”

While the weather in Iowa City affected practices, one young golfer making the trip is looking forward to the warm weather in Texas.

“It’s been cold, along with the rain, and there’s been a lot of frost in the mornings, so we haven’t been able to play 18 holes a lot,” Cardwell said. “But that gave us the opportunity to work on our short games. When it’s chilly, you kind of lose focus, and you get tensed up. But because we’re in Texas, it will feel nice and warm.”

Expectations have not changed from the beginning of the season, Crawford said. The Hawkeyes are hiding their potential somewhere in their golf bags along with their clubs, but she said she knows it’s very reachable.

“We play our practice rounds, and I’m always very excited going into the tournament, but we don’t seem to put it together during the round,” the fourth-year head coach said. “I still keep thinking that this is the tournament where everybody goes low, everybody plays to her ability, and everybody plays consistently. I believe we have the ability to do some things and play well.”

After a good practice round on Sunday, Crawford said the course, the Onion Creek Club, looks to be a good fit for Iowa. She said she thinks the course isn’t playing very long and that it will bring in low scores — hopefully more for her Hawkeyes than the competition.

This will be the last tournament until March 2010 for Iowa, but the looming four-month layoff doesn’t change the team’s outlook going into this tournament, nor does it make the Hawkeyes complacent.

Crawford is still looking to finish in the top third of the field and improve on Iowa’s season-best fifth-place finish in last tournament in the Hawkeye Invitational, and the players echo their coach’s sentiments.

“I think our confidence is a little stronger because of that last finish,” Cilek said. “We kind of struggled in our previous tournaments, but we worked really hard, and it’s nice to see it pay off.

We’re looking to finish strong in our last tournament of the fall so that we can go into the spring knowing that all of our hard work paid off.”

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