CU Golf Takes No Pressure, No Expectations Approach To Big 12's
BOULDER - Even though the Buffs are riding the momentum of a spring best fourth-place finish in last week's Utah Dixie Classic, Colorado women's golf coach Anne Kelly will take an untraditional, no pressure, no expectations approach as the postseason tees off Monday at the seventh annual Big 12 Championships on the par 72, 6,008 yard Country Club of Missouri in Columbia.
"That last tournament definitely helped us. This is an extremely talented team. We're just frustrated because we haven't played to our potential yet. We came close last week, but just didn't quite get there. We're going to go in as the underdog, so we're just going to take this tournament day-by-day, hole-by-hole, ball-by-ball," explained head coach Anne Kelly. "Hopefully we will play as well as we're capable of playing and it will add up at the end. I just don't want to put any pressure on the team."
The 54-hole annual will tee off Monday with tee times beginning at 7 a.m. (MT) Monday, and off #1 and #10 Tuesday and Wednesday. The Buffs will tee off Monday with players from Baylor and Oklahoma State in the third group.
The Buffs have finished 11th in the last two championships in Ames, Iowa and Manhattan, Kan., and will look to improve on a program-best ninth place effort where they finished in both 1999 and '00.
One of the toughest leagues in the nation, Texas and Oklahoma State are the third and eighth-ranked teams in the nation, respectively, in the most recent GolfStat listing of head to head rankings. The Big 12 and SEC (with two teams in the top-10), trail only the PAC 10, which has four teams on that list, while the Big 12 has the remainder of its teams among the top 90. Following the Longhorns and Cowgirls are Oklahoma (24), Baylor (28), Missouri (40), Kansas State (42), Texas Tech (45), Texas A&M (49), Nebraska (52), Iowa State (67), Colorado (71) and Kansas (87).
The Buffs' travel roster for the championships include senior co-captains Erin Kerr and Jolene Fellhauer, sophomores Allison Rella and Joey Stetser and newcomer Maria Persson Gulda.
This will be the third, and final, conference championship loop for Kerr and Fellhauer. Kerr, who will graduate with no less than 11 school records in her name, enters the championship with the league's 10th best strokes per average (75.3) and will look to improve from last year's 13th place finish. Fellhauer, plagued with inflamed hip joints throughout the spring season, carries a 78.4 average into Monday's first round and bragging rights to a school record low round 67, carded at Denver's Highlands Ranch Invitational back in September.
The tandem, along with Lynn Ann Moretto represent Kelly's graduating senior class. Fellow classmate Kimber Westbrook still has a season of eligibility remaining.
"Each of these three players have fought through some real adversities throughout their careers, and senior seasons and just want to win, be successful and leave positive imprints on this program," said Kelly. "They've taken this program to the next level."
Rella is making her second straight trip to the postseason and carries a career season low and the team's second lowest average (77.7) to Columbia and will be one of the top 10 sophomores in the 60-player field. As has Kerr, Stetser has overcome having her clubs stolen during her Christmas trip home and is more than a pair of strokes ahead (80.1) than this time a year ago.
One of the top-10 freshmen in the league with a 79.4 strokes per average, Persson gulda is the lowest scoring CU frosh since Taya Battistella (78.69) during the 1998-99 season. Failing to qualify for the season opening Ptarmigan Ram Classic was all the motivation the Swedish import needed as she has scored in 19 of 22 tournament rounds since.
Following the championships, the Buffs will have to wait less than a week before they learn of their NCAA destiny. The NCAA Regional bracket will be announced Monday, April 28 and Anne Kelly's sixth team is currently riding a big bubble. A year ago, Colorado missed qualifying as a team by the slimmest of margins, but then-junior Erin Kerr became the first player in the program's history to play in an NCAA West Regional, as the No. 1 individual not represented on one of 21 qualifying teams and finished 12th.
"It will be good to have one more tournament to prove to ourselves, and others, how good we are. If we could lower our scoring average (the Buffs are at a school record low 309.4), that would help. And beating some teams that we aren't "supposed" to beat couldn't hurt."