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Iowa women’s golf to start season today

BY TORK MASON | SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Hawkeye women’s golf team is playing with a newfound energy this season.

After a last-place finish at last spring’s Big Ten championships, the team has had to adjust to a new head coach following Kelly Crawford’s resignation in June. Now, under first-year coach Megan Menzel, the Hawkeyes are ready to hit the links.

“After last year, there’s really nowhere to go but up,” Chelsea Harris, the team’s lone senior, said on Sept. 6.

The Chip ’N’ Club Invitational, in Lincoln, Neb., today and Tuesday, will be the team’s first opportunity to make that move up. The Hawkeyes will be one of 16 teams from around the Midwest participating in the 54-hole tournament, including first-year conference-mate Nebraska.

Six of the team’s eight golfers will make the trip: Junior Kristi Cardwell will compete as the No. 1 golfer, followed by junior Gigi DiGrazia and Harris. Freshmen Lauren English and Shelby Phillips will get their first crack at college competition in the No. 5 and 6 spots.

Sophomore Karly Grouwinkel will compete unattached from Iowa, and sophomore Woojay Choi and freshman Nicole Rae will stay in Iowa City.

Menzel said she believes she has a talented group, and she is confident her golfers’ ability to compete at the tournament.

The team blends youth with experience, and the freshmen are expected to provide both positive results and depth.

“They bring a lot of energy and competition to the team,” Harris said. “The top four spots aren’t engraved anymore, like they were last year. It’s a battle every day, which is what we needed.”

This comes after a spring season in which Harris said she felt the team was “too comfortable” — because there wasn’t much competition for the top spots — and was lacking the inner competition that can push players to improve.

She said this year will be more exciting, knowing that there are four or five players who can compete for the No. 1 spot.

Menzel said she also believes the newcomers deliver an “air of confidence,” and she said English and Phillips — who were both top-60 recruits out of high school — are both aggressive players who aren’t afraid to “fire it at any pin.”

The team will play a short schedule during the fall season, participating in four tournaments instead of the five it has played in each of the past two years.

Cardwell said she doesn’t anticipate that being a problem, though.

“I don’t think it’s a disadvantage — we just get a little bit longer break between tournaments,” she said.

The junior from Kokomo, Ind., also said the shortened schedule could benefit the freshmen by allowing them to focus on things they need to improve, rather than playing tournament after tournament.

The Chip ’N’ Club Invitational will tee off this at 9 a.m. today with a shotgun start. Live scoring is available on GolfStat.com.


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