Jan. 29, 2009
NORMAN, Okla.- With a season-best third-place finish in the fall and an additional top-five finish, the 2008-09 Oklahoma women's golf team showcased its talent and growth. Now it prepares for a promising spring.
Despite some ups and downs throughout the fall season, this year's team has already set itself apart in Oklahoma women's golf history. Leadership and maturity will be the two constants in every tournament and practice session, which will ultimately be the driving force as the Sooners attack the spring season.
Senior Kendall Dye, sophomores Ellen Mueller and Sara Hemingway, and true freshman Brooke Collins continually occupied four of the top five spots in the Sooner lineup during the fall.
Dye ended a successful fall season as one of the most consistent players on the squad. She finished among the top 22 golfers at each tournament, and posted a season-best ninth-place finish a the Windy City Collegiate Classic in Skokie, Ill.
"Kendall has really matured and has become a great help and mentor to the new players, as well as to those who have been on the team with her," OU head coach Carol Ludvigson said. "She has really developed into a great leader, one the team really respects."
The Windy City Collegiate Classic not only brought out a solid finish for Dye and the team, which finished fifth overall, but for Mueller as well. The sophomore fired a three-round score of 220 (+4) in the event, landing her in third place. It was her second top-five finish. Mueller also shot a career-best single-round score of 71 on the tournament's first 18 holes.
"Ellen is one of the toughest competitors on our team and has all of the heart and desire to win and help her teammates win as well," Ludvigson said. "She is getting tougher every time that she tees the ball up to play."
Hemingway, the sophomore transfer from Texas A&M, made an impressive debut as a Sooner in the fall. She competed in all four events and placed 23rd at the Windy City Collegiate Classic and 22nd at the Price's "Give `Em Five" Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M. Hemingway established her season-low score of 74 in the first and last rounds in New Mexico.
"Sara has been quite a gift," Ludvigson said. "Not only does she have the maturity of an upperclassman, but she never really gets rattled. Sara provides a great amount of stability and consistency in her attitude and drive."
Making an impressive collegiate entrance in the fall was freshman Brooke Collins, sister of OU junior golfer Chelsey Collins. The younger Collins placed 24th individually and second among the Sooners at her first tournament, the Ron Moore Women's Intercollegiate at Highlands Ranch, Colo. She also set her season-low single-round score of 71 in the same event.
"Brooke is so natural in her thinking on the golf course and really never sees an impossible situation, "Ludvigson said. "She has the mentality that there is always a way to get things accomplished and is constantly challenged by these things. She is really trough."
The depth of the team is demonstrated every day by senior Staci Smoot, juniors Ryanne Elmer, Chelsey Collins and Andrea Sellmeyer, and true freshman Kelly Short.
"I have had great teams in the past that have had a lot of success and that have worked so well together, but this group has an unbelievable ability to compete against one another," Ludvigson said. "They truly wish one another the very best. It is a team that continues to encourage one another and tries to push one another to be the very best they can be."
The depth and cohesiveness shown by OU demonstrates the potential success the team could enjoy during the spring season.
"We have our captains who were voted on by the team, but anyone on the team can take over in many ways as leaders at various times throughout the semester," Ludvigson said. "We have many goals for the spring, but the most important is to improve our ranking, to win the Big 12 Championship, to advance past NCAA Regionals and to have many Academic All-Americans."
The Sooners will open up the spring with the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, P.R. (Feb. 8-10), before competing in the Central District Invitational in Parrish, Fla.(Feb. 16-17), the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational in Austin, Texas (March 20-22), the MountainView Collegiate in Tucson, Ariz. ( March 28-29), and OU's home tournament, the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic, in Norman, Okla. (April 5-6).
The Sooners will compete in the Big 12 Championship in Lubbock, Texas (April 24-26). Ludvigson's group hopes strong play throughout the spring will result in a bid to an NCAA Regional.
"I would like to see the dedication of our women to push themselves and not accept mediocrity," Ludvigson said. "I'd also like to see them use every day to get better and have specific goals that are clearly defined. I would like to see us be physically stronger and to be perceived as a mentally tough team. I want them to take control of their own destiny and do what they have to do to achieve their goals.
"I have never had a team that is so mature, encouraging and caring for our overall success. The potential that this team has is unlimited. We have only seen glimpses of what they can accomplish. I can't wait to see us put together the dedication they have to their own games and to one another during this off-season as we do work that needs to be done to succeed in the spring."