Lady golfers back in action

BY JESSIE SMITH | APRIL 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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After over three weeks off, the Iowa women’s golf team is ready to hit the links at this weekend’s Indiana Invitational.

Three of the five Hawkeyes traveling to this year’s Bloomington event participated in the 2009 competition, in which the team recorded an eight-place finish.

Indiana Invitational veterans senior Alison Cavanaugh, junior Laura Cilek, and sophomore Chelsea Harris will be joined by junior Lauren Forbes, and freshman Kristi Cardwell.

For Cardwell, though, the weekend tournament holds special significance.

“Well, it’s in my hometown,” she said. “So I want to put on a good show and just play up to my potential.”

Despite two prior showings at the 54-hole event in her golf bag, Cilek said this weekend’s competition is nothing like last year’s.

“It’s a different course, so we’re kind of just trying to not even think about the last tournament,” she said. “The roster is different. It’s a new dynamic on our team. I think we’re kind of just rolling with what we’ve already established this spring so far in our tournaments because its been really cohesive and positive.”

The three-round tournament will be played on the Indiana University Golf Course, and it will have a 15-team field that features last year’s tournament runner-up Iowa State. The pool contains additional familiar foes, with one-third of the field being occupied by Big Ten teams.

Head coach Kelly Crawford said she sees the upcoming Indiana event as a chance for her team to not only showcase their progress but also to potentially put a dent in the top of the tournament standings.

“Right now, we’re kind of at the bottom of the conference rankings,” she said. “But I feel this like this spring, we’ve made a huge stride in our scores, and I feel [this weekend’s tournament] will give us a good chance to see where we are, and I think we’re going to beat a lot of those teams.”

The Hawkeyes are no strangers to the top of the leader board — especially at this specific tournament, where Crawford’s squad led after 45-holes in the 2009 event. A rocky plus-40 third round plagued Iowa and dropped it to the bottom half of the final tournament standings.

The fourth-year coach said her team has been zeroing in on sustaining its high intensity from start to finish, a feat her squad achieved in its last tournament, the Jackrabbit Invitational on March 16.

Cilek said the team’s talent is consistent and, as a result, has helped maintain a competitive mindsets over the three-week break.

“From our top person to our lowest person is all competitive,” she said. “Everyone’s in the same range, so that helps keep that tournament-like setting because everyone’s competing and pushing each other.”

Crawford joked about the team’s competition with an unkind Mother Nature in last year’s tournament. Instead of snow and hail, the Hawkeyes are pulling for more desirable playing circumstances so they can direct all their efforts to strong play.

“The weather was horrible. It was more of a survival tournament than it was really playing golf,” she said. “But we were in a really good position [last year]. And we just kind of let it get away from us. More than anything right now, as well as we’re playing, that’s sort of what we’re focusing on. Not so much that we let something get away from us last year, but more that we’re really doing well now.”

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