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Freshman golfer English tough to label

BY TORK MASON | SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Who is Lauren English?

The answer to that question is difficult to pin down. It changes with almost every person you talk to.

The freshman from Bloomington, Ill., can be "quiet," "competitive," "sarcastic," or "nuts," depending on who you ask.

Her parents, Mark and Mary English, are both PGA professionals and started teaching their daughter the game when she was four years old. Mark English said he sees his daughter as a down-to-business competitor.

"She's extremely competitive on the golf course, and takes it very seriously," he said, and added she is a goal-oriented person who knows what she wants in life.

But if you ask freshman Shelby Phillips what her teammate is like, you get a different answer.

"She's nuts," Phillips said, laughing. "She's very creative, always doing something. She's a good girl — outgoing, full of life, and fun to hang with. And you never know what's going to come out of her mouth."

But even among members of the team, there's no consensus on just who English is. Junior Gigi DiGrazia wasn't initially sure how to describe her, and she offered yet another opinion.

"If you look at her, she doesn't look crazy, but she's — I wouldn't say she's crazy, but she's spontaneous," DiGrazia said. "She has a good sense of humor. It's kind of subtle, not loud and obnoxious. Just subtle, sarcastic comments that kind of define her."

Head coach Megan Menzel describes English as a hard worker, the type who shows up early and stays late, and who brings a "different kind of focus" to the team.

"She's always willing to fire right at the pin," Menzel said. "She doesn't mess around a lot out there, just steps up and hits it. So mentally I would say she's a very strong player."

English put her focus on display at the Chip-N-Club Invitational in Lincoln, Neb., on Monday and Tuesday, finishing in a tie for 15th place in her first collegiate tournament.

And English said she would describe herself as person who is motivated to win, both on and off the course.

English chose to come to Iowa after taking several visits to other schools, and made her visit to Iowa City after playing in an American Junior Golf Association tournament in the Quad Cities area. She said she liked the campus and would "feel right at home," despite initially being less than enthusiastic about Iowa's cold weather.

She was a highly touted recruit; English was considered the No. 1 prospect in Illinois, and was rated in the top 50 nationally.

Her father said the performance that best demonstrated his daughter's competitive streak was in the final round of the Illinois state championship in her freshman year at University High in Normal, Ill.

"She was in the final group; that's a lot of pressure on a freshman, but she was very focused, handled it very well, and played very well," Mark English said. "She didn't win, but the team won the championship and she finished second. And that just summed up her determination and her focus when she's on the golf course."

So who is Lauren English? The competitive, focused athlete who is determined to get what she wants, the nutty and unpredictable "good girl," or the sarcastic wisecracker? Or maybe she's someone else entirely?

Perhaps the best way to describe Lauren English is that she's all of those.

"She's an awesome person," Phillips said.


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