May 20, 2010
Q&A with head coach Martha Richards
All three freshmen in the lineup carded lower scores in Wednesday’s second round. Were their nerves settled after competing in their first round of the NCAA Championships on Tuesday?
Richards: I think they did a pretty good of settling in. They didn’t hit the ball quite as well in the first round, and I saw improved ball striking today. However, this course was set up pretty difficult today. Tougher hole locations, and a little bit of opposite wind on our last few holes. I think overall we’re settling in and playing Texas Golf. I like what this group is doing. We’re competitive, and we want to have a good showing here.
Par-3s are typically scoring holes. How are those holes set up this week?
Richards: The par-3s out here are really difficult. We’ve played some of them very well, and some of them not so well. If we can get those ironed out, I think we can shoot some really good numbers out here.
How much more difficult is Country Club of Landfall playing under wet conditions?
Richards: It does play longer, definitely. The good news is this course seems to drain really well. Hopefully, we don’t get a lot more rain. It’s our understanding that the next couple of days are supposed to be pretty good, not really even showers are expected. Either way, this course is set up long, but fair. It doesn’t feel super long, and the holes are set up really well. Some of the par-4s are playing really long, and some aren’t. This golf course is set up really well for a championship. It’s in amazing shape. But when it’s wet and playing longer, it definitely makes it a little more difficult because we’re hitting a lot of hybrids and long irons into some of these greens.
How does having three freshmen in the lineup impact your coaching style?
How have NCAA Championships veterans Shannon Fish and Nicole Vandermade helped prepare the freshmen for this week?
Richards: Fortunately, these freshmen have played a lot of golf for us. Madison Pressel and Haley Stephens have played in every tournament, and Desiree Dubreuil has played all spring. They’re in tournament mode, for sure. All you can really do to prepare freshmen for the national championship is to tell them about it. This is a longer week, and they nod their heads yes. We’re just trying to rest their legs and keep them off of their feet as much as possible after we play. At this point, we’ve played what we normally play – four days of golf. We’re on our fourth day right now, with two more rounds of competition to go. It’s really important for them to keep their focus and to be well rested to perform at a high level.
Richards: Shannon has really helped prepare the freshmen because of her three experiences in the NCAA Championships. She’s played three very different courses between Albuquerque, Owings Mills and now Wilmington. It’s good for the freshmen to hear the advice of our veterans because they’re hearing it from a players’ perspective. Shannon reinforced one of the quotes we’ve used in the past the other night by telling the freshmen that at this point, you have to dance with the one who brought you. We’re not reinventing the wheel this week. We’re balancing playing with a lot of grit and toughness with being well rested. It’s a tough dynamic.
What kind of advice do you give the team now at the halfway point?
Richards: We’ve played a ton of good golf here. We’ve had more big numbers then we’ve had in awhile, and this course will do it to you. The fairways are tree-lined and the greens are protected by water. We haven’t played our best golf out here yet. It’s both exciting and frustrating. We’re knocking at the door, and now we just need to go out there and take advantage of the opportunities we have while minimizing mistakes. Championships are always about making your bad holes bogeys and not anything more than that. If we do that, it won’t feel like we have so much ground to cover to get back into position. We’re really working hard at getting out of trouble, putting for par and avoiding the big numbers. Our goal for these last two days is to go out there, have fun and beat as many people as we can.