Women's Golf Starts Spring Season At Spartan Invitational

SCHEDULE: The Oregon State women's golf team plays in the San Jose State Spartan Invitational March 5-7 at the Corral de Tierra Country Club in Salinas, Calif. This is the first time OSU has played in the Spartan Invitational, and the first time the par 72, 5,938-yard Corral de Tierra has hosted the event.

Teams will play 18 holes Monday through Wednesday, with a shotgun start beginning each round.

THE FIELD: Along with Oregon State, the field includes host San Jose State, fourth-ranked Arizona State, No. 5 Stanford, No. 9 Pepperdine, No. 14 New Mexico State, No. 15 Oklahoma State, No. 17 Tulsa, Colorado, BYU, Hawaii, Washington State, Washington, Penn State, Cal State-Monterey Bay, and Rhodes College.

POSITIVE ATTITUDE WILL GET YOUNG TEAM OVER THE TOP: Perhaps more than in any other sport, golf is a game whose outcome is determined more by one's mental fortitude rather than sheer physical talent.

For the Beavers, the biggest challenges thus far have come not in the form of long, double-dog-leg par fives or down-hill left-to-right putts, but in responding well to the last drive that put them in the rough or the par putt that lipped out when it should have gone in.

Those days are soon to be over, according to head coach Rise Lakowske.

'They've done a lot of work over the break,' Lakowske said. 'The main thing is that they are about to, or have - and you won't know until they compete - turned a corner as far as the way they think on the golf course. They're working hard on that, so it's much more positive, much more target-oriented, and they have a lot more confidence in themselves. They're learning to play the shot they have, and to put the other shots behind them. There's nothing you can do about a shot you already hit. That should make a big difference if they can carry that over into competition.'

If OSU's qualifying scores are any indication, that positive frame-of-mind has indeed carried over. In two weekends of qualifying, only one player rose into the 80s. Sophomores Stacie Ferguson and transfer Ashlei Pendleton played well enough to earn the first and second positions for the tournament. Joining them will be Bridget Bieth, Carina Olsson, and Melanie Furuta.

'The last two weekends of qualifying, they did (carry it over), it was probably the best qualifying we've ever had,' Lakowske said. 'Stacie Ferguson and Ashlei Pendleton both had very good qualifying scores, all of the scores were pretty good.

'It's been four months since they've played (in a tournament), so they've had a lot of time to get ready.'

The San Jose State Spartan Invitational should be a good litmus test for the Beavers as they kick off their spring season. The field of 16 includes six teams ranked 17th or higher, but none save San Jose State have played the par 72, 5,938-yard Corral de Tierra Country Club. The club hosts the tournament for the first time this year.

'We've never played in this event before,' Lakowske said. 'It's supposed to be a good golf course - I think they've played some PGA sectional qualifying events there.

'The field is good, it's probably one of the best fields we'll see all year. It has a lot of good West Coast teams, and Penn State is going to be in from the East Coast, so it'll be fun.'

Redshirt freshman Melanie Furuta has been playing well of late, having overcome an injury that kept her out of action last year.

'She's got such good feel and tempo,' Lakowske said. 'She qualified in the fifth position, but I expect her to play very well. She's a golfer - she has a talent and feel for the game that is there already, and you don't have to teach it. As long as she just works on it and starts to think about the positive things in the game and the target - all of those things the golf gurus talk about - her scores will just go down.'

'They're going to be so much better than they were,' Lakowske said of the spring-season Beavs. 'They've worked very hard, and I don't think you're going to see the faintest resemblance to last fall - not from what I've seen at practice,' Lakowske said of the squad that averaged over 315 strokes per round in the fall. 'I think Ashlei has made a difference. She's got a good attitude and is happy to be here, and her teammates really like her.'

OREGON STATE'S LINEUP: Stacie Ferguson (Sophomore - Tucson, Ariz.) Stacie played in all five tournaments in the fall... averages 80 strokes per round... low round of 74 came in New Mexico State tournament in October... best finish was tied for 35th at NMSU... low round of 234 came at NMSU.

Ashlei Pendleton (Sophomore, Transfer - Henderson, Nev.) Ashlei begins her career at OSU this spring... transferred from TCU over winter break... played in one tournament as a freshman.

Bridget Bieth (Sophomore - Sacramento, Calif.) Bridget tied for 13th at OSU's Shanico Invitational with a 229... carded a 72 at that tournament... averages 76.3 strokes over three rounds.

Carina Olsson (Senior - Sollentuna, Sweden) The only senior on the team, Carina played in all five fall tournaments, posting an average of 77.8 over 15 rounds... low of 72 came at the Stanford Invitational, where she tied for 19th with a 226... also tied for 19th at OSU tournament... has four career rounds of 72 or lower.

Melanie Furuta (Freshman RS - Long Beach, Calif.) Melanie had her best tournament at NMSU, finishing tied for 42nd with a 235... low round of the year came at NMSU when she posted a 75... averaging 80.8 strokes over 12 rounds.

BROOKSBY INJURED: Senior Anne Brooksby (Portland) will miss the entire spring season with a shoulder injury. Brooksby is a three-year senior letterwinner. She averaged 79.0 strokes per round last season. Brooksby does have a redshirt season remaining.

HOME OF THE NCAA REGIONALS: The Trysting Tree Golf Club is home to the NCAA West Regionals for both the men and women in 2001. This will be the first major collegiate tournament held at Trysting Tree in the 12-year history of the course. The women's regional is scheduled for May 10-12, and the men's from May 17-19.

THE COACHES: Ris� Lakowske is in her 11th season at Oregon State, and is the most successful women's golf coach in school history. Lakowske has taken the team to seven consecutive NCAA West Regional appearances, and was honored as the 1998 Far West District Coach of the Year. Lakowske is a former OSU student-athlete (1973-77).

Brian Watts is in his second year at OSU, and serves as assistant coach to both the men's and women's programs. The Western Oregon State University graduate brings vast experience to the Beavers, as he played professionally on the Golden State Tour, the Florida State Tour, and on the Candian PGA Tour for four years. He also worked as an assistant professional at the DeBell Golf Course in Burbank, Calif., and at Golf Classics of America in Beverly Hills and San Dimas.

CAREER AND SEASON BESTS: A look at the Beavers' best rounds and tournaments to date: (if different, * = career best)

Bridget Bieth: Best finish: t13 - OSU Shanico, best three-round score: 229 - twice, best round: 72 - OSU Shanico

Marylyn Brand: t19 - OSU Shanico, 231 - OSU Shanico, '01, 76 - OSU Shanico, '01

Stacie Ferguson: t35 - NMSU (*t14 - Pac-10s, '00), 234 - NMSU (*226 - Pac-10s, '00), 74 - NMSU (*71- Pac-10s, '00)

Kelly Ferris: t45 - OSU Shanico, 238 - OSU Shanico, 76 - OSU Shanico

Melanie Furuta: t42 - NMSU, 235 - NMSU, 75 - NMSU

Carina Olsson: t19 twice (*t2 - BYU Invitational, '97), 226 - Stanford (*223 - Ping/ASU, '00), 72 - Stanford(*70 - BYU Invitational, '99)

Laura Skinner: t62 - OSU Shanico, 240 - Stanford, 77 - Stanford

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