UI women's golfer qualifies for major amateur tourney

BY TOM CLOS | JULY 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa sophomore-to-be women’s golfer Lauren English suffered a shaky end to her season after arriving in Iowa City as a top recruit last fall. The underclassmen finished in 62nd place at the Big Ten championships in April, posting a plus-28.

She’s bounced back this summer, however, and is taking her talents to a national stage.

The Hawkeye qualified for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Tournament after shooting a 73 (plus-1) in a qualifying event in Bristol, Ill., on July 10.

“It’s going to be such a thrill being around the best players in the country,” English said. “I’m so excited that I made it.”

She was one of five participants out of the field of 47 elite players to advance to the Aug. 6 event, which will be held in Cleveland. The soon-to-be sophomore said that the high stakes each hole had, as well as the quality of her opponents, rattled her a bit in Bristol, but she was able to overcome it.

“I was nervous at first because it was only an 18-hole tournament, which means there aren’t many [holes] you can waste,” English said. “But I felt pretty confident in my game, and I just worried about myself rather than the other players.”

Iowa women’s golf head coach Megan Menzel wasn’t surprised that English was good enough to advance to a big stage. The second-year coach said that English’s desire to get better and her relentless work ethic showed throughout the season and subsequently in the qualifying tournament earlier this month.

“She has dedicated herself to the game and has worked hard on improving her swing,” Menzel said. “It’s all finally paid off this summer.”

Menzel, an LPGA apprentice, said there isn’t anything as valuable as the experience a player gets from competing in high profile competitions such as the U.S. Amateur.

“There’s really nothing like playing in [U.S. Golf Association] events. They’re pretty special,” Menzel said. “She comes from a golf family, so I know she really understands how special this.”

Both of English’s parents, Mark and Mary English are PGA professionals — which means both are certified teachers of golf and work at a golf course. Mark Englished served as his daughter’s caddy at the preliminary tournament and was elated at the result. He said that next week’s competition would be something he has looked forward to the last few months.

“It was awesome to see her make it,” Mark English said. “It was something she’d been working really hard for and wanted very badly.”

Lauren English felt very comfortable having her father with her on the course in such a high-pressured atmosphere.

“He obviously has a lot of experience, and it’s nice to have his input of what club to use or how the greens are breaking,” she said. “He helps me with the little things out there that can get overlooked in big competitions.”

Mark English hasn’t decided yet if he is going to be on the bag with his daughter at the U.S. Amateur, but he said that the keys to success remain the same, regardless of who is caddying.

“She just needs to say calm and make the short putts,” he said. “Her chipping and putting can save her from a bad round or make a poor round better.”

The elder English has decided to take an honest approach to the tournament and said that his daughter’s chances of finishing first are slim at best.

“I don’t think she has a realistic shot at winning the whole thing,” English said. “Lauren’s probably looking to just make the cut and get to the match-play part of it.”

The sophomore swinger disagreed with her father’s approach and said entering a tournament with low expectations can only lead to disappointment.

“I can’t just go out and try to make the cut; I need to be motivated to win,” she said. “And I’m entering this tournament doing just that.”

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