NORMAN, Okla. -- The University of Oklahoma women's golf team is ranked No. 5 nationally to start the 2013-14 season according to Golfweek, which unveiled the Sooners' spot Friday as part of its top-25 countdown. On Thursday, OU was slotted in the No. 6 spot in the Golf World/WGCA preseason coaches' poll.
The Sooners are the top Big 12 team in both sets of rankings, with Oklahoma State (7/14) and Baylor (19/24) also appearing in both polls. Texas is No. 19 in the coaches' version.
OU will be led in 2013-14 by a senior-laden class that has already assaulted the school record books. The Sooners have posted 23 top-five finishes in their 33 tournaments over the past three seasons under head coach Veronique Drouin-Luttrell and have won six events over the last two years. They finished sixth and ninth, respectively, at the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Championships, and last year set single-season school records for scoring average, finish percentage, par-or-better rounds, par-5 scoring and birdies.
Drouin-Luttrell said her squad can't wait for the season to get started.
"We're definitely excited," she said. "This senior class, from day one when they arrived on campus, knew they could do something pretty special and that's how we've turned the program around. They had confidence. They knew they were good and that they could do something special. So that's how we started their freshman year and we've improved as a team every year. For the seniors, it's pretty special to see how far we've come. They've worked really hard, and I appreciate them and their work. I'm really proud of them."
Chirapat Jao-Javanil, the 2012 NCAA individual champion who is Golf Digest's No. 7 player to watch in the country this year, own's three of OU's top four single-season scoring averages and the school's top career mark. She is joined on the roster by fellow seniors Anne-Catherine Tanguay (No. 2 school career scoring average), Emily Collins (No. 5 school career scoring average) and Kaitlyn Rohrback (competed in nine of team's 11 events last year).
OU adds four freshmen to the roster, and the OU coaching staff says they could contribute in a big way.
"The freshmen definitely have a chance to make a big impact," Drouin-Luttrell said. "With two seniors graduating last year, we definitely need someone to step up, and I think the freshmen are going to be there and be ready. They've played a lot of golf and they've played in some big tournaments, so they have the experience to fill some big shoes."
The newcomers are Haley Hill (Edmond, Okla.), Amanda Johnson (redshirt; Duncan, Okla.), Alexandra Kaui (Las Vegas, Nev.; competed in 2013 U.S. Women's Open) and Maggie Neece (Colleyville, Texas).
With the combination of experience and energetic youth, OU team members say the sky is the limit this season.
"There are so many possibilities to what this team can do," said Jao-Javanil. "We just have to keep working hard and hopefully we can come out on top."
OU opens the season Sept. 9-11 at the 15-team Dale McNamara Fall Preview at Tulsa Country Club, site of the 2014 NCAA Championships. Twelve of the 15 teams competed at the 2013 NCAA Championships.