Women’s golf must relax to have a successful spring

BY J.T. BUGOS | NOVEMBER 10, 2009 7:20 AM

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Momentum is key in sports. It can carry a team for minutes, quarters, matches, tournaments, and even seasons.

But every squad wants the needle to point their way.

After three tournaments of poorer-than-expected play from the Iowa women’s golf team, the Hawkeyes finally gained some momentum in their final two tournaments. Now, the Iowa golfers hope they can hold onto it for the four months until their spring season starts, in March 2010.

At the Hawkeye Invitational, Iowa’s second to last tournament, the Hawkeyes finished fifth, and freshman Kristi Cardwell scored an even par round of 72.

At the Challenge at Onion Creek in Austin, Texas, Iowa’s final fall tournament, the Hawkeyes finished 19th, but posted their top three scores of the fall — two of which broke 300. Junior Brianna Coopman and Chelsea Harris both posted scores below par with a three-under 67 and one-under 69, respectively.

After Onion Creek, Iowa head coach Kelly Crawford said she saw the tournament as a turning point for the Hawkeyes’ scores and mental focus.

“I wish we were playing in another tournament right away,” she said. “The [golfers were] able to see they could do it now. If we just play our games, relax a little bit, and not put so much pressure on ourselves to try to win the tournament in the first three holes, I think they can get it done and be successful.”

Coopman agreed with Crawford’s assessment.

“We started to realize that the more we relax, have fun, and not put any pressure on ourselves, the better we play,” Coopman said. “That’s what happened in the last tournament because we really focused on relaxing and not putting nearly as much pressure on ourselves. It gave us something to think about going into the spring and gave us confidence.”

Crawford said the last tournament was a great way for Iowa to finish the fall considering the Hawkeyes’ early season struggles.

The fourth-year head coach came into the fall season with expectations of improving on last season’s top-five Big Ten finish, and she said those expectations have not been lowered.

“I feel like we haven’t played to our potential or abilities yet,” Crawford said. “We have some talented players, and I feel their biggest challenge was putting too much pressure on themselves instead of just relaxing. I expect the girls to play consistently, shoot rounds in the low 70s, and have our team scoring average in the low 300s. I think the players can see now that we’re capable of that.”

Although the golfers have yet to reach their potential, Crawford said the team was very close in every event and prepared well in practice. The Hawkeyes just didn’t have everybody playing well at the same time during the tournaments.

Crawford does see the team teeing off on its potential in the spring, though. She said the fall season was a big learning experience.

At the very least, the head coach said, this was the most fun she has had as a coach at Iowa.

“I think the chemistry with the team is the best it’s ever been,” Crawford said. “We looked forward to going to practice, and all the girls wanted to get better and learn. Most importantly, they all wanted to do well for one another. When I think about this fall, just being around the girls and having fun stands out to me.”

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