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Iowa women's golf wraps up a tough season

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | APRIL 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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Finishing last at the Big Ten Championships was a disappointing end to a tough season for the Iowa women's golf team.

But the Hawkeyes know what they need to improve, and they are ready to move on.

"I feel like a broken record, but the short game is what separates the best from everyone else," junior Chelsea Harris said. "If we all improve our up and down percentages and shave off a few putts per round, we'll be very successful next year."

This season's poor execution in the short game kept the Hawkeyes from producing scorecards in which everyone played well. Without a strong performance from each golfer, the team's overall score wasn't up to its potential.

When Harris and senior Lauren Forbes posted solid scores at the Edwin Watts Classic in Kiawah Island, S.C., the rest of Iowa's scores were uncharacteristically high.

Again, at the Anteater Invitational in March, sophomore Kristi Cardwell finished in an impressive 11th place overall while the rest of the team fell far behind.

"There were a lot of tournaments where one or two people had a good tournament," senior Laura Cilek said, "But we didn't have any tournaments where everyone played well at the same time."

The Hawkeyes lacked the consistency to post strong team scores, and this was especially damaging against the elite competition at the Big Ten championships in Glencoe, Ill.

Big Ten women's golf is a challenging, competitive field with five teams ranked in Golfweek's top 50. Two of those five, Purdue (No. 4) and Michigan State (No. 19) are ranked in the top 20.

"It was very tough competition, but I believe that we are right there with them," Cardwell said. "We have the chances to be nationally ranked once we all get it together at the same time."

Two aspects that have remained constant despite the team's inconsistency this season were a positive group attitude and a strong work ethic.

"There were a lot of times we could have gotten really down on ourselves," Cilek said. "But nobody gave up. Everybody did her best to find out what needed to be fixed and made sure she put the effort in to improve before the next tournament."

After a poor performance at the Lady Northern Invitational in the fall season, Cardwell went to work on her short game and turned out the second- and third-best rounds in school history at the 2010 Challenge at Onion Creek.

In addition to the team's positive attitude and dedication, Cardwell was another asset for Iowa as the team's leading scorer. The Hawkeyes could always count on a solid performance from her.

She was Iowa's low scorer in five of this year's 10 tournaments.

"Kristi had a good spring season," Harris said. "And we could always rely on her to keep a good attitude and put up some good numbers."

The Hawkeyes are taking the positives from this season, working on their short game in the off-season, and expecting to compete in the fall as one of the Big Ten's strongest teams.

"This year was a learning experience," Harris said. "We know our weaknesses and what we need to improve, both on and off the course. Everyone needs to have strong work ethic and build up her confidence, and then we'll have a lot of fun next season."


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