Stanford Women's Golf Spring Preview
Feb. 3, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford's women's golf team enters its spring season with a newfound sense of determination, urgency and most importantly--confidence.
Five returning letterwinners join two of the nation's top freshmen to lead the Cardinal on its journey that will hopefully find its way to the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C. for the NCAA Championships in June.
After making 18 straight trips to the NCAA Championships from 1990-2007, including a fifth-place finish in 2007, Stanford has missed the NCAA's each of the last two seasons. Caroline O'Connor, who enters her 15th full season as the head coach of the Cardinal, believes the pieces are in place to return Stanford to a place of national prominence.
'We have more depth than we have had in recent years,' said O'Connor. 'We've narrowed the gap, but we've been lacking the red numbers on the board. We had flashes of brilliance in the fall but we just need to be more consistent. We need two scores under par and our throw out score to be no higher than 75.'We've made progress but we still have work to do if we are going to be a national force in women's golf.
'We are in a good place to start the spring,' said O'Connor. 'I'm more excited about this team after the fall season and anxious to see what we are capable of. I think we have improved tremendously since the end of the fall.'
The Cardinal will count on veterans senior Angela King, juniors Rebecca Durham and Piper Miller, sophomores Sydney Burlison and Lila Barton along with talented newcomers Sally Watson and Kristina Wong to end Stanford's two-year absence at the NCAA Championships.
'The one thing I really like about this team is its passion for the game they show on a daily basis, whether it's in practice, competition or in the gym,' O'Connor said. 'The bar has been raised on this team.'
Angela King, the lone senior on the roster, posted the best stroke average on the team during three fall tournaments at 74.2. She also carded two of the lowest rounds of the fall at the Stanford Intercollegiate Championships, giving O'Connor reason to believe King is ready to take her game to another level during the spring.'Angela's game is so simple and she understands her game as well as anyone,' said O'Connor. 'She is a definite leader on this team.'
Rebecca Durham posted the third-best stroke average on the team last year as a sophomore at 76.3. She finished 16th at last year's Pac-10 Championships held at Stanford after carding rounds of 75, 74 and 71. A native of St. Simons Island, Ga., Durham posted a 74.5 stroke average during the fall, highlighted by a 17th-place finish at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
She gained added confidence over the summer by winning the Georgia Top 60 Women's Classic at the Reynolds Landing Golf Course in Greensboro, Ga.'Rebecca is as tenacious as they come,' said O'Connor. 'She is a fighter and competitor and wants to be the best at everything she does. She has the skills and the passion to take it deep.'
Piper Miller saw action in just one tournament during the fall, playing as an individual at the Stanford Intercollegiate. Injuries limited her to just three events last season but a healthy Miller will certainly go a long way in adding quality depth to the squad.
'Piper has really improved her game this year,' said O'Connor. 'First and foremost, she's healthy and her swing is back to where it was as a freshman. Her ball striking has been much more consistent.'
Sydney Burlison posted the second-lowest stroke average on the team last year as a freshman at 76.0 and also carded the lowest round of the year with a final round 68 at the Stanford Intercollegiate. She also fired an opening round 69 at the Kent Youel Invitational. Three events this fall yielded a stroke average of 75.3.One of the most highly-sought after players in the country coming out of Pebble Beach's Stevenson School in 2008, Burlison has all of the tools to blossom into one of the nation's outstanding underclassmen.
'Sydney qualified for the U.S. Open when she was 13. She is a tremendous talent,' said O'Connor. 'She has without a doubt one of the best short games in the country. If she can get off the tee consistently, who knows what her limits will be.'Lila Barton played in all eight tournaments as a freshman, finishing with a stroke average of 77.1, highlighted by a pair of 72's in the final rounds of the Mason Rudolph Invitational and the Pac-10 Championships.
'Lila has all of the physical tools,' said O'Connor. 'She is as healthy as she has been in awhile and I look for her to be a big contributor this year.'
Stanford welcomes two highly-touted freshmen to The Farm this season in Sally Watson and Kristina Wong. Watson, a native of Earlsferry, Scotland, and Wong, who was raised in New York City, come from different backgrounds, but were first united at The Pendleton School in Bradenton, Fla.
Both players have competed at the highest level of junior golf and in international competition. Watson and Wong were on opposite sides of the fence this summer, competing against each other at the Junior Solheim Cup. Watson also participated on the 2008 Curtis Cup Team for Great Britain & Ireland in addition to making the cut at the 2007 Women's British Open.
Wong advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Women's Amateur and was co-medalist at the 2007 Women's Amateur, along with Stacy Lewis.
'Both Sally and Kristina have already competed at a very high level,' said O'Connor. 'They have the potential to be among the best players to have ever played at Stanford.'