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Iowa women's golf begins Big Ten Championships

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | APRIL 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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Today, the Iowa women's golf team will tee off at the Big Ten Championships just days after a disastrous 11th-place finish at the Lady Buckeye Invitational.

The disappointing finish — with a team score of 997 strokes — had junior Chelsea Harris wishing her team didn't have to be "embarrassed going to Big Tens."

The 2011 Women's Golf Big Ten Championship is a 72-hole, three-day tournament. It will be held at the par 72 Lake Shore Country Club Golf Course in Glencoe, Ill., and Northwestern University will host the event.

"As a team, we need to be tougher, as you can see," senior Laura Cilek said after the tournament in Columbus, Ohio. "Everyone played in the same conditions and just braved it out better. We need to play better to keep up with the competition."

With a lack of mental toughness, the Hawkeyes couldn't fend off the poor weather conditions they experienced at Ohio State, and this week's forecast shows the team could face the same challenges.

According to the Weather Channel's April 21 forecast, the Hawkeyes can expect rain this Friday morning and thunderstorms later today. Winds could reach up to 30 miles per hour the report says.

Although no further rain is forecasted for the rest of the weekend, winds are expected to remain high.

Thursday's golf index, which describes course playability, was rated at a fair five out of a possible 10 at the Lake Shore Country Club Golf Course. Wet terrain was cautioned as well.

"Last week's conditions are just how it is going to be this weekend, so we can expect and prepare as if it is going to be windy and rainy," Cilek said. "Once we accept that, it's just a matter of being mentally tough."

Hitting a solid shot that takes a bad bounce or being partnered with a golfer that has a bad attitude are two instances junior Chelsea Harris said can affect one's mental game. But poor weather can be especially devastating when high winds change your shot.

While the Hawkeyes are going to have to overcome some major challenges to be successful this weekend, there are some positives for the team heading into competition. The Hawkeyes have already seen their Big Ten competition in many tournaments this year, and Iowa played on the Wildcats' home course in the Lady Northern Invitational on Oct. 11-12.

Iowa is focusing on the now and will not let last year's 11th-place Big Ten finish or the Ohio State mishap creep into its mental game.

The Hawkeyes are ready to compete.

"We have to focus on the Big Ten Championships and let go of Ohio State," head coach Kelly Crawford said in a release. "It was a poor showing on a whole lot of levels. Right now we are expected to have similar weather conditions, and we just have to be mentally stronger than we were last week.

"We're much better than how we played, and we need to perform to our potential despite the condition."


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