Women's Golf peaking for fall finish
Oct. 30, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- The tradition of Texas is guiding Martha Richards' Longhorns this week, but it's the present that is motivating them.
The Women's Golf team tees it up Monday to begin the 54-hole Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, now in its 38th year of competition. It was in the spring of 1974 that then-UT coach Pat Weis established what has not only become a mainstay at UT and Austin, but a tradition that dominated collegiate golf and later came to honor its namesake, Betsy Rawls, a Texas graduate and one of the most prolific golfers of her day.
Rawls won more than 50 tour championships between 1951 and 1975, including four U.S. Opens.
The Longhorns are now winners of two of their past five tournaments, dating back to last spring's 2011 Big 12 Championship. UT opened this fall season with a two-stroke team victory at the Texas A&M `Mo' Morial, before a top-10 finish at the Stanford Intercollegiate in middle October.
Richards said the greatest gift the early triumph gave the team was the feeling that resonated long after the final putt dropped.
"We know we can win against some very good teams," Richards said. "The team has just continued to work really hard, and I think the win has raised their level of expectation."
Competition will again dictate that the Longhorns play to their potential, as four ranked teams solidify this week's 15-team field. UT is ranked No. 14, while conference foe Oklahoma State leads the pack at No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
Junior Madison Pressel, reigning Big 12 individual champion and Golfer of the Year, is coming off a tie for sixth place at the esteemed Stanford Intercollegiate. Pressell logged three-consecutive par-or-better rounds at the Stanford Golf Course for a 54-hole score of 5-under 208, and she touts a 73.67 scoring average in nine competitive rounds.
Desiree Dubreuil leads the Longhorns with her 73.44 scoring average, and her steadiness is symbolic of what UT hopes to achieve as a team this week at The University of Texas Golf Club. She was UT's top individual finisher in College Station, Texas in September.
The course will be set to play to a par 72 at 6,344 yards. Intense drought-like conditions throughout Texas has left the golf course miraculously green but certainly a dense hard-pan underneath. Balls should roll out, making the course play shorter; however, greens requiring a low trajectory approach will be harder to hold, because of the firm conditions.
The Longhorns have the unique advantage of playing competitively on their home course. But Richards has them guarded against allowing familiarity with the layout and potential pin positions interfere with their willingness to grind around the course.
"They know they can (win), so now the key, especially playing at home, is to not let the expectations get in the way," Richards said. "Trust work that you've put in. In the fall, you just want people playing great golf. The scores should take care of themselves." According to Dubreuil, the season-opening victory intensified UT's practice sessions, which should have an effect this week, as the Longhorns look to conclude their fall schedule on a similar note. "More than anything, winning that tournament gave our team some motivation," Dubreuil said.