Husky Golfers Looking to Make an Impact
Jan. 23, 2003
Seattle - Thanks to a successful fall campaign that saw the Washington women's golf team finish in the top three of each of its fall tournaments, the Huskies were able to enjoy the break between the fall and the spring competitive seasons ranked seventh in the nation. It is the highest ranking ever for the Husky program.
Washington head coach Mary Lou Mulflur, who is in her 20th season directing the Huskies, says the lofty ranking has served as motivation for her veteran team.
'Historically, we have not been a great team in the fall in terms of where we have finished at tournaments,' Mulflur says. 'That can get down on you as you practice and wait for the spring season to begin. This year, the players are really looking forward to getting after it and proving that the ranking is deserving and that they can continually play at that level.'
Mulflur says despite the solid results in the fall, the Huskies feel they have plenty of room for improvement.
'Our consistency was really good,' Mulflur says. 'That is something every team strives for in its scoring and our players did a great job of staying focused and grinding out some solid scores. But, they also feel they're capable of doing much more.
'We never really had a hot round in the fall. We scored between 294 and 304 and that is a nice, neat package, but no one went out and really posted a great round. Our scoring average was one of the best in the nation. If we can keep doing that, we will be fine. We certainly have the players that help us improve on the low end and I think we will see that this year. That is why the players are so excited. They liked the results, but know they can do much better.'
The Huskies will pursue their sixth NCAA Championship appearance in the last nine years without the top player to ever carry a bag at Washington. Two-time All-American Kelli Kamimura was a senior last year, but will still assist the team this season as an undergraduate coach.
Kamimura finished her career with a school record four tournament championships. She owns the top two single-season stroke average marks (74.3 and 74.5) and had the most top-10 finishes (20) of any Husky.
'The rest of our lineup is back, so basically we are looking at replacing Kelli with a true freshman,' Mulflur says. 'I do not have the same expectations of a first-year player as I had for Kelli, so it is very important that the other players raise their level of play if we want to be highly competitive. From what I saw this fall, they are making that type of a commitment.'
Last year Friberg led the Huskies in stroke average at 74.91 despite being UW's top scorer in just one event. She was Washington's number-two score in nine of 11 tournaments, including the NCAA Championships where she carded a second-round score of 67, the best 18-hole total in her career. While she has never won a tournament, Friberg has recorded 10 top-10 finishes during her career.
Last fall she was the Huskies' top finisher at their final two events and turned in consistent scoring between 72 and 75 in all nine of her rounds for a stroke average of 73.88. She finished the fall ranked 29th by Golfweek.
'I was really impressed by Louise's play last year and she showed this fall she has more room for improvement,' Mulflur says. 'I think she has a chance to be an All-American this year. She has really worked hard on her short game and wedge play and that is going to allow her to break through with some below-par rounds this year. Louise has also done a nice job of stepping up and taking on the role of being a team leader.'
Grafos, a two-time selection to the NGCA All-Scholar-Athlete team, came through with her best play last year during the postseason. A veteran of 29 tournaments, she was the Huskies number-three scorer at the NCAAs.
'When we really had to have her, when things were not going well for us as a team, she really stepped up her game and helped us last year,' Mulflur says. 'I think she took a lot of confidence away from those situations. She's a senior and she knows this is it. She had a tough fall, but I fully expect her to rebound and have her best season ever as a senior.'
One reason for Washington's improved team scoring during the first half of the season was junior Lindsay Morgan's play. The team's longest hitter, she showed dramatic improvement last spring and was the Huskies top scorer three times during a month of tournament play.
Morgan's stroke average of 75.6 ranked as the sixth best single-season mark in Washington history. An honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick as a sophomore, Morgan was even more impressive this fall. After three events she posted a stroke average of 74.78 and finished the fall ranked 54th by Golfweek. All nine of her rounds were between 73 and 77.
'I really enjoy Lindsay's attitude,' Mulflur says. 'She is always asking what she can do to help. She is also the type of athlete that likes to be challenged. Lindsay is someone we will be able to count on this year for some very consistent play. I think she can meet any high expectations that are thrown at her.'
Sophomore Paige Mackenzie rounds out the list of returning veterans. While the youngest member of the group, Mackenzie has demonstrated she could be the Huskies' best performer on the leaderboard.
As a freshman, Mackenzie was one of Washington's top three scorers in 10 of 12 events. She earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors, was named to the NGCA All-Scholar-Athlete team and was the second highest finishing freshman at the NCAA Championships. Mackenzie placed 25th at the NCAAs, the best finish ever by a Husky at the event.
Mackenzie led the Huskies in the fall with a stroke average of 73.8, highlighted by a third-place finish at the McGuire Invitational. Golfweek ranked her 26th in its final fall poll.
'The sky is the limit for Paige,' Mulflur says. 'She is probably the toughest mentally of any player I've had. She just finds a way to get it done. She is also capable of shooting much better scores than she did in the fall. I think she is capable of being a top-ten player and someone who can go out and challenge for medalist honors at just about any event.'
Joining the Husky lineup is a trio of freshman including Sung Ea Lee, Breana Minnitti and Katie Kofmehl.
Lee is the only one of the three newcomers who appeared in all three fall events. A veteran of numerous national junior events, Mulflur feels Lee is capable of being a contributing scorer during his first year as a collegiate.
'She did a really nice job this fall of making the transition to the college game and realizing pretty quickly that she can compete, not just participate, at this level,' Mulflur says. 'She is extremely talented. She has played in a lot of events and knows how to handle the pressure.
Mulflur expects Kofmehl to redshirt the season, but thinks Minnitti could crack the Huskies' lineup.
'Breana is capable of challenging for a spot in the lineup,' Mulflur says. 'We're going to give her some opportunities, but she will have to earn her spot. A lot is how motivated she is. She is quite fearless for someone who has not had much more than high school or local tournament experience. She has a tremendous upside.'
'The team did a very nice job this fall and they saw the results of their work when they broke into the top-10 in the rankings,' Mulflur says. 'We have a very solid team. Now we just need to go out and play on a very consistent, but high level. That is a big challenge. I know these players are excited to see if they can do it.'