2008 Women's Golf Season Preview
Feb. 21, 2008
The future is now for the 2008 Washington women's golf team, a squad that features three sophomores and four freshmen ready to take to the links in 2008.
These young Huskies will have a lot on their shoulders this spring after last year's squad missed making the NCAA Regional field for the first-time in school history. The 2007 Huskies were also a young team searching for their identity.
The same can be said for this 2008 squad. But for 25th-year head coach Mary Lou Mulflur, what they might lack for in experience they make up for in talent, energy and drive.
'The energy and the chemistry that they have with each other is as good as we've had in quite a few years so I'm excited to see what they bring every day,' Mulflur said. 'They want to be good, they want to work at it and they want to be successful. This is a very self-motivating group; I don't have to worry about getting someone fired up. They're fired up, they're ready to go and to me that is the most exciting part.'
For Mulflur, the challenging part about having such a young team is the lack of experience. While the intangibles are there, nothing can replicate experience.
'We know how good they are, but they are all starting over,' she said. 'When you're a freshman, you're at the bottom of the totem pole, you don't know anything but you have this ability to play. I know they will get through it but you wish you could speed it up for them.'
Understandably, Mulflur doesn't have specific goals laid out in front of such a young team.
'We talk about process goals and not so much about outcome goals,' Mulflur said. 'It goes without saying you want to do as well as you can all the time. But you can shoot 280 and lose because someone shoots 275. We want to tend to the process and take it day-by-day. If we know that at the end of the day we've done all that we can to get better, then the outcome goals will take care of themselves.'
The Huskies may be young but they don't lack in leadership. While not the norm for second-year players to shoulder such a role, sophomores Molly Aronsson, Molly Boyle and Christina Yoon have done so naturally.
'The three returners have done a marvelous job of guiding the freshmen even though they are only sophomores,' Mulflur said. 'They want to be good and they know that's part of it, and they all have that innate leadership within them. Molly Boyle was the student body president at her high school, Molly Aronsson played hockey for years and Christina was a tae-kwon-do expert. Those are activities that help give you confidence, things that help you grow; that put you in the position of being a leader. I think all of three them have been able to draw on those experiences to help them in their new roles.'
Leadership isn't the sophomores' only strength. While just true freshmen last year, Aronsson and Yoon finished second and third on the 2007 squad in scoring average behind only veteran senior Amber Prange. The duo was already leading the Huskies on the links from a talent standpoint.
Aronsson, a native of Shelburne, Vt., played in all nine events, finishing her rookie campaign with a 77.7 stroke average. She recorded a top-10 finish in her Husky debut, tying for sixth at the Nittany Lion Invitational and had her best performance versus par at the Stanford Intercollegiate, shooting 3-over 216 for the tournament.
'Molly is really competitive,' Mulflur said. 'She tries to force the ball in the hole, kind of like in hockey where you can force the puck into submission. But she's learning you can't do the same thing in golf. She has such a fierce competitiveness when she plays, there's no question she wants to be successful. I think sometimes she's a little too hard on herself and that gets in the way sometimes. I love her tenacity and the fierceness she brings when she competes.'
Like Aronsson, Yoon was one of the Huskies' top players as just a rookie. A native of Ontario, Canada, she played in eight tournaments and was the Huskies' top finisher twice including at the Pac-10 Championships. Yoon tied for 11th at the conference event, turning in her best performance versus par at 13-over 229.
'Christina is the cerebral one, she's always analyzing everything,' Mulflur said. 'We're trying to get her out that a bit, but I think she's fallen in love with the game again to where you kind of lose sight of what you want to do. She came back this season with a different look to her, a different bounce in her step. You could tell she worked really hard all summer and she was genuinely excited to get going again.'
Boyle rounds out the Husky sophomore class. One of the hardest working players, Boyle also provides the team with much needed comic relief. The Portland, Ore., native joined the team as a walk-on and has turned out to play an important role for Mulflur.
'Molly is just a born leader,' Mulflur said. 'She has worked really hard and done more than I expected from a leadership standpoint. She's our team clown, there's no doubt about it, but it's easy to forget how hard she's working. People sometimes lose sight of that. This is a kid who comes to practice, works her tail off, is encouraging to her teammates. She's just been great in every way.'
While the sophomores are wise beyond their years, the Husky freshmen will surely not be far behind. All four will be looked upon to contribute, a group led by Karinn Dickinson from Mukilteo, Wash.
Dickinson emerged early, playing in two of the three fall tournaments and finishing that portion of the schedule with the lowest stroke average of any Husky. She was Washington's top finisher among the stacked field at the Stanford Intercollegiate in her UW debut.
'Karinn is very long off the tee, very long in general,' Mulflur said. 'She has a wonderful attitude. She's one of those players who I can't tell how she's doing just by looking at her. She could be shooting 3-over or 3-under and I would have no idea by her demeanor. I think that is something that really serves her well. With her length, she can go as far in the game as she would like to go.'
The other freshmen include Nicole Ferrero from Lodi, Calif., Anya Alvarez from Jenks, Okla. and Katie Saucier from Bainbridge Island, Wash. Ferrero was the only rookie to see action in all three fall tournaments, her best performance coming in her debut at the Ihlanfeldt Invitational.
'Nicole is probably the grittiest competitor I've ever had,' Mulflur said. 'I've seen her with some rounds that didn't start out very well and she just grinded out every shot, chip and putt. She is absolutely relentless in wanting to do well. She is very quiet, but she is just grinding the entire time.'
Alvarez competed in two of the three fall tournaments for the Huskies, making a strong debut at the Ihlanfeldt Invitational as the No. 2 finisher for Washington.
'Anya is very long for her size and she hits the ball well,' Mulflur said. 'I like her tenacity on the golf course. There isn't a single shot that she's not confident she can hit. That's such a wonderful quality to have, whether you're playing golf or any other sport. She knows she can execute shots and she knows that she can play well.'
Saucier rounds out the Husky freshman class. Joining Dickinson as the only other Washington native on the squad, Saucier got her feet wet in one fall tournament, the Ihlanfeldt Invitational.
'Katie is another one who plods along,' Mulflur said. 'She might not get the most attention, or be the flashiest player out there, but she does her work very well and brings a lot of positive energy to the team. She's right there in the mix.'
Just because the Huskies are a young team, doesn't mean the schedule they face won't be any easier. As is always the case, a strong lineup of tournaments against many of the nation's top fields will begin with the Wildcat Invitational at the end of February. There's no easing into the spring for Washington.
'We're scheduled pretty strong again this year which is very typical for us,' Mulflur said. 'But that's our goal. You want to play with the best to see where you're at constantly. You want your team to peak at the same time and it's all about postseason play. I don't get too worked up about how we're doing along the way as long as we're progressing and getting better, and staying within ourselves, working on that process. Hopefully you look up in late April and May and you're right where you want to be.'
For the 2008 Huskies, that could very well find them back in the mix for postseason play.
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