Men's Golf moves on, season ends for Women's Golf
NOTE: Susan Watkins resigned Tuesday, May 8 after 14 years as head coach of Women's Golf at The University of Texas. [Press release: ]
As May began, Women's Golf coach Susan Watkins and Men's Golf coach John Fields were headed in different directions.
Watkins' women learned their season was through, while Fields' men would live to play another day in the NCAA Central Regional at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
"It was a disappointing year," said Watkins, who completed her 14th season as head coach at her alma mater.
"It's been a year of challenges," she continued. "We were a very young team (only two seniors) and we suffered injuries."
Senior Julia Best and sophomore Meredith McMahan both had health issues that plagued them this season.
Then in the Big 12 Championships junior Kelley Louth was lost during the second round of the event.
Watkins' crew had to compete in the final round one player shy in the 54-hole tourney. Still, they enjoyed their best round of the championships.
"We did a good job that day," she said. "We made a nice statement."
Meanwhile, Fields' team continues in 2007, looking towards the NCAA Central Regional.
"We are really looking forward to the regional," said Fields, who is in his eighth year at the helm of the men's team. "It's been an up and down year for sure. We finished fourth in the Big 12 Championship and by no means is that what we wanted."
Fields mentioned his reaction when he was congratulated for the fourth-place finish in the Big 12.
"I said, 'Excuse me?'" Fields began. "I accept congratulations on how hard my guys worked. But, we're Texas and we're spoiled. We won the Big 12 in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Finishing fourth in the Big 12 is not where we want to be.
"Please understand, I was disappointed for my guys, but not disappointed in their effort. They have given the effort all the time this year."
Fields said that playing Oklahoma State, Florida, Georgia and Georgia Tech comprised a tough schedule, which is what he wants so his players may be tested by the best.
"When we were at a tournament this year," he said. "I always felt we had a chance to win it."
Fields described his team as "old and inexperienced."
At the Big 12 Championships, he started two seniors, two juniors and freshman Lance Lopez.
"We did not finish well," said Fields. "That is why we are looking towards the regional."
Junior Kevin Schultz led the way on the final day of the Big 12 Championships on the 6,611-yard Prairie Dunes Golf Club, where Texas had claimed two of its Big 12 titles under Fields. Schultz wound up in a tie for 11th. Lopez, who enjoyed a fine freshman year, finished in a tie for 35th.
"Prairie Dunes is one of the finest golf courses in the world," Fields said. "Lance played his heart out. But, it is a little difficult for a freshman to wholly get his arms around a course like that."
For Watkins, two of her six freshmen on the roster, Shannon Fish and Arliss Hoy, were the top two UT finishers at the Big 12 Championships in Waco. Sophomore Kristin Walla was next.
"There is no question that I feel as though they deserved better this year," Watkins said of her team's 2007 season. "The lack of success has nothing to do with heart and desire. Their heart and desire were there every day."
"The girls are not happy," Watkins added. "I am not happy. I'm very sad that we are through but it is important for us to put this behind us. We need to pull in all of the positives of the strong finish (final round of the Big 12) and move on to next year."
Fields' men will try to pull in the positives, too, and they have the opportunity to do so now.