Women's Golf to Tee Off at Big 12 Tournament Monday
BOULDER-Senior Maria Persson-Gulda becomes just the third Buff to play in four Big 12 Championships as a veteran-laden University of Colorado women's golf team will tee off the postseason when the 10th Annual Big 12 Championship, hosted by the University of Nebraska, will be decided this Monday through Wednesday, April 17-19 on the par 72, 6,158-yard Country Club of Lincoln.
The 54-hole championship format will consist of 18 holes played each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with 8 a.m. (MDT) tee times off #1 and #10 each day. In 2005, Oklahoma State captured its fifth Big 12 women's golf championship with a final score of 900 at the University of Texas Golf Club. Cowgirl senior Annie Thurman-Young won individual medal honors for the second consecutive season with a record-score of 212.
OSU has earned more championships than any other Big 12 team, followed by Texas with two and Oklahoma and Texas A&M tied at one apiece. The Buffs will be paired with OSU and Texas Tech on Monday and will be the first group on the No. 1 tee.
The Country Club of Lincoln opened in 1923 and this is the first Big 12 women's conference championship to be played on the course.
"It's in very good shape. It's an old, traditional tree-lined course, very much like a tight Boulder Country Club," said head coach Anne Kelly. "The kids really like the course. It's not a real long course, but it's pretty tight and rewards the straight hitter. The greens aren't big but they are fast, but I think you just have to play smart. It's tempting to go for it at times, but the risk/reward is not worth it. You have to play smart. If we keep the ball in the fairway we can do very well."
Colorado's travel roster for the tournament includes freshman Lindsay Caljouw, Persson-Gulda, junior Hannah Hoch, junior Lindsay Koth and sophomore Lindsay Senger. This marks the first Big 12 meet for Caljouw and Senger, and will be Koth's second and Hoch's third.
The Buffs, who finished 11th a year ago in Austin, Texas, have finished no higher than ninth in the annual championship. Going into the weekend they're carrying a team tournament average of 308.45 in 10 outings this year, the second-best in the program's 12-year history. They've shot better than 300 four times this season, and are coming off three of their better tournaments of the year.
"We have the talent to go have a good tournament," said Kelly. "We've kind of had an up and down year but we always have a chance to go finish strong. The Big 12 Tournament is always very competitive because it's a great golf conference. We've played most of the teams earlier in the year, so hopefully that helped prepare us to go play well."
Colorado's No. 1 player, Caljouw, is the first Buff freshman to enter the Big 12 Tournament as the No. 1 since Sarah Bellinger in 1998 after finishing as the top Buff in five of CU's 10 tournaments this year. She has the team's low stroke average at 76.00, and this spring is firing away at 74.92, tops in school history. Caljouw is coming off a sixth place individual finish at OU's Susie Maxwell Berning Classic, where she faced players from Big 12 schools Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas State and Kansas and hung tough. She hopes to be the third Buff to finish in the top 10 at the conference meet, joining Sarah Bellinger (4th, 1999) and Jo Pritchard (6th, 2002).
"As a freshman, it's hard to predict what she'll do," said Kelly. "She's not nervous, but when it's time to go, you just never know. She definitely has the talent to compete and be in the top five, but as a freshman its unpredictable."
Persson-Gulda finished 52nd as a freshman in this tournament, and cut her finish in half a year ago to finish 25th. As a junior she was 31st after entering with a top 15 strokes average. She has finished as CU's low score in a trio of tournaments and has a pair of top-20 finishes. The lone senior on CU's roster, barring an at-large bid to the NCAA Regional Championships, this tournament will be the last of her career.
"We've talked about it (being her last meet) actually and I just told her that it's going to be an emotional time but you want to finish your college career on a positive note," said Kelly. "You need to compete and save your emotions for afterwards. It's easy to get wrapped up in all of that...so I told her to go compete and remember what it's like. Go shoot under par, and you will remember it for the rest of your life."
Hoch, Colorado's No. 1 player a year ago, has had an up and down year but has shown flashes of potential to repeat her 2004-05 successes. Last year she became just the second Buff to win a tournament, and first since 1998 when she claimed medalist honors in the Ron Moore Intercollegiate. Four tournaments later she would become the first Buff to do it twice, picking up the win at the Miccosukee Championship in Miami. With a three-round 215 at CU's Mountain View Collegiate, she bettered the 54-hole school record by a pair of shots, a record she still holds.
"In the practice round you are just trying to get a feel for the greens," Kelly said. "Hannah is hitting it close and is giving herself a chance to score. She has been getting so close to what she's capable of, and this could be the time she puts it together on the greens."
Koth is one of three players for the Buffaloes that will return to the Big 12 Tournament, having played there as a freshman. She has been part of CU's lineup in eight of 10 outings, with a top finish of 35th coming at the MountainView Collegiate in Tucson in late March. That tournament saw her shoot a collegiate career low 73 in the final round, a score that Kelly feels is indicative of Koth's ability.
After two tournaments in the fall, Senger has become a part of CU's regular lineup this spring, playing in all five meets. She holds a career best 80.13 strokes per average and was the Buffs top finisher at the Kent Youel Invitational in November. Her best round of the year is a two-over 74, and she is one of CU's longer hitters. Should she make putts this weekend, she has the potential to score for CU in her first Big 12 Tournament.
Senger will be the first Buffalo to tee off on Monday on No. 1 at the Country Club of Lincoln. Live scoring will be available on www.GolfStat.com for CU golf fans to follow the action.