NORMAN, Okla. -- In her 22nd year as Oklahoma’s women’s golf head coach, Carol Ludvigson looks forward to another season with the Sooners. A former OU golfer, Ludvigson has led two squads to conference titles (Big Eight in 1991 and Big 12 in 2000)
The Sooners hope to rekindle the championship spirit this season. OU, which returns eight golfers from a 2005-06 squad that saw its season end earlier than hoped, will blend a mix of experience and youth in 2006-07. Soonersports.com sat down with Ludvigson to talk about this season’s expectations, key players and the depth on this year’s squad.
The OU women’s golf team tees off its fall season this Sunday, Sept. 10 at the two-day Badger Invitational in Madison, Wis.
SoonerSports.com: Last year you had a relatively young team. How does the fact that the girls have more experience stand to help the team this year?
Coach Ludvigson: "They understand what to expect. It’s been a growing year for everyone and the team has a year of competition to build on. They are more experienced and they we’re not pleased with the way they finished last year. So I think the best way to describe this year’s team is that they are hungry."
SS: Comment on the new freshman class and the talent they bring to the table. How do you see them contributing to the team?
CL: "This year’s freshmen come in with a lot of talent and national, as well as international, experience. Andrea Sellmeyer is smart and such a great athlete. She is really a natural and is easy to coach. She’s the type that only makes the same mistake onceshe makes note of it and never does it again. Chelsey Collins is such a hard worker. She is tall which helps her really hit the ball and she has a pretty good short game. Joyce Trus came from the recommendation of a former men’s golfer and she has been a surprisea good surprise. She is very mature for her age and has a great disposition for the game of golf. Joyce is a very driven individual."
SS: Which players do you expect will compete the most often? Or do you envision there being a lot of competition that will result in a variety of line-ups?
CL: "Kelly Jacques and Kendall Dye have been the most solid and consistent. I think our top three spots will usually stay the same but there will be some changes in the fourth and fifth spots, especially in the fall. I want to give everyone a chance to improve and get the feel for it all."
SS: Has the team set any specific goals for this season? What would you like to see accomplished?
CL: "Our team goal is to win three tournaments. We want to win the Big 12 championship and qualify through regionals for the NCAA Championships. Academically, we want to finish as the top team at OU. This past year, we tied with Texas A&M and Nebraska for having the most student-athletes (5) on the Academic All-Big 12 team. We would like to do that again. Finally, we would like to continue our team unity throughout the season."
SS: What do you think is the main strength of this year’s squad?
CL: "Their internal drive. They want to always be in it and show maturity. They have really good length coming off of the tee."
SS: What do you hope to see improve throughout the season? What was maybe a weak point last year and how do you feel about that with this year’s group?
CL: "We really want to improve our short game. Because the short game is what wins it. I think our first, second and into our third position was pretty good last year but I’d say we have to really maintain our consistency in the fourth and fifth. If those positions are not strong, it just puts too much pressure on the first three players. That goes back to the depth factor we have with this team. If I see that somebody is not able to pull their weight then we have good players ready at home. That’s why I am really excited about the depth that we have."
SS: Who do you expect to be the team leaders this year?
CL: "Kendall, Kelly and Jaclyn Stelzer will lead on the golf course. Off the course, Kendall and Megan Goodwin. Megan is really starting to step up and be a more vocal leader. Once Andrea gets playing a little bit, she’ll probably be a leader on the team, as well."
SS: How is the team’s confidence level heading into the fall season?
CL: "They are very excited. They feel really good about the team and the team that’s traveling. I think they feel really good about their games individually. Kendall sat out almost all summer from a stress fracture in her foot and so she is gradually getting back into it. I think she is pleasantly surprised at how she’s playingshe’s just a great athlete and will rise to the occasion. All of them have come off of a pretty good, hard-working summer. Staci Smoot is really starting to come around. I’m really excited about seeing her hard work pay off and really contribute to the team. I think the main theme is that everyone is working hard and ready to play."