Sophomore Cardwell leads Iowa women's golf team as the low-scorer


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Fifteen years ago, sophomore Kristi Cardwell picked up a golf club for the first time. Fifteen years ago, her father knew golf was something she should continue to pursue.

"Kristi was blessed with strength," father Byron Cardwell said. "She has always been that girl that was stronger than all the rest."

As a young golfer, Kristi Cardwell excelled. In high school, she was a three-time MVP, as well as the first women's golfer in her high school's history to go to the state tournament all four years. She holds nine of 10 individual records at the school.

She is now the Iowa women's golf team's leading scorer, and her father says her determination and competitive attitude brought her to this point.

"She is definitely competitive," he said. "Thinking back to the old Monopoly days and games like that, she always wanted to win."

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The young Hawkeye's name appears in the top-three of Iowa's best individual performances in school history for 18, 36, and 54 holes. She finished third at this year's Hawkeye Invitational in September and 11th in the highly competitive Anteater Invitational in March.

Her talent has not only benefited her team on the scorecard, it has also helped keep her teammates focused.

"For just being a sophomore, she just takes control of practice sometimes," said senior Brianna Coopman. "She kind of steps in, and she reminds people that, 'OK, this is what we need to get done, and we need to focus for the next hour.' "

Despite only being a sophomore, Cardwell already has ambitions for herself in the sport. She wants to officially lead the Hawkeyes as a team captain in the next year or two, and after college, she wants to play professionally on tour.

"I have made a lot of progress," she said. "My putting has gotten a lot better. I still have a lot of improving to do, but mentally, I think I have matured a lot."

Head coach Kelly Crawford said she has noticed a significant amount of maturity in Cardwell as an athlete. And Crawford said because she "doesn't quit and doesn't give up," continuing to play after college is a realistic goal.

"Two years ago, I told her you don't wait until college is over to start working toward being on tour," Crawford said. "It starts now. She has the foundation; she just needs to put in the time and hours, and she is that athlete who is always practicing extra."

Cardwell's dedication didn't even give her a day off on her birthday weekend, when her family members were in town. Playing from the same tees, she and her father battled it out.

"She can definitely hold her own," Byron Cardwell said. "Now, I have to ask for strokes and all that, but I just always tell everyone that I won."

With a competitive drive to be successful, her father believes she will do anything she sets her mind to.

He said, "She never says die."

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