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Women’s golf heads into final fall invitational

BY HILARY LOUDON | NOVEMBER 01, 2010 7:15 AM

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As the members of the Iowa women’s golf team head to the Onion Creek Challenge today, there’s only one thing on their minds: finish strong. This tournament — held in Austin, Texas — will conclude the Hawkeyes’ fall season, and all the Hawks want to end on a high note.

“We have played so well this fall, and the team wants to finish on a good note,” head coach Kelly Crawford said. “I don’t see this being any added pressure being our last event of the fall. Rather, I see this as an opportunity to go into the break on a great finish.”

Tournament play will begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. today. It will consist of 54 holes, 36 to be played today and the remaining 18 on Tuesday.

This season has proved to be one of the strongest in school history. Throughout the fall, Iowa has shown progress, with a first-place finish at home and a third-place finish the following weekend at the Badger Invitational.

The Hawkeyes finished their last tournament, the Lady Northern Invitational, unexpectedly low, and they hope to finish much stronger today.

“As a team, we were unable to get off on the right foot,” senior Lauren Forbes said. “We did not play to our potential and, as a result, put ourselves far behind in the first round. The next two rounds brought better scores but just not enough to make a big jump in the standings. We all reflected on our performances at the Lady Northern, and we have worked hard to strengthen the weaker parts of our games.”

The field consists of 15 teams, including Iowa State, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Denver.

“There are some strong teams in the field, including University of Denver, which is a top-10 team,” Crawford said. “They will most likely be our toughest competition. I do feel that if we play the way we have all season, we will have a top-five finish. I just need everyone to stay tough and play to her potential. If that is done, we will certainly have a great tournament.”

Traveling for the Hawkeyes are seniors Laura Cilek and Forbes, junior Chelsea Harris, and sophomores Gigi DiGrazia and Kristi Cardwell. At this tournament last season, Harris and senior Brianna Coopman led the team in scoring. Both ended the tournament with under-par rounds.

Coopman was unable to qualify for the tournament.

Throughout this season, the leading duo has consisted of Cilek and Harris, and Crawford expects them to produce another impressive performance.

“I always expect Laura and Chelsea to play well,” Crawford said. “Laura struggled a bit in the last event, but we fixed the mechanical issue, and she has practiced really well. She is going to be fine. Chelsea has worked out a few challenges as well, and I expect her to have a good tournament, too.”

Harris acknowledges her biggest challenge is being able to score within 100 yards — but she’s been working in practice to improve on it.

“We’ve been working on short game a lot and working on some mental things,” Harris said. “I think this tournament is going to go well. Last year, we shot some good scores, and so I think everyone is excited to go low this weekend.”


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