April 21, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A third straight BIG EAST Conference title is what the Notre Dame women’s golf team will be shooting for this weekend as they take to their home course for the conference championship. The Irish have captured the past two crowns in commanding fashion and the team enters the 2005 tournament as the No. 1 seed out of the four-team field. For the third consecutive year the Fighting Irish will have the luxury of playing on their home turf, the Warren Golf Course near the Notre Dame campus. The Irish hope to add another conference championship trophy to their case and then wait to hear if their name will be called for the NCAA tournament. The men’s BIG EAST Championship will be held in conjunction with the women’s at the Warren Golf Course.
BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP: The BIG EAST Championship will get underway on Saturday, April 23 with first round tee times beginning at 8:00 a.m. (CDT) at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course. Round two tee times are slated to start approximately at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. The third and final round will begin with 8:00 a.m. tee times on Sunday, April 24. The Notre Dame golfers will tee it up between 8:50 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. for the first round and between 1:50 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. for round two. Third round tee times are based on results from the first day. Live scoring will be available through golfstat.com. Full results will be posted daily on und.com. Additional information can be found at und.com and bigeast.org or by calling the Notre Dame athletics hotline at 574-631-3000.
BIG EAST FIELD: Four women’s teams will take to the Warren Golf Course to battle it out for the conference crown. Notre Dame enters the championship as the top seed, followed by St. John’s, Georgetown and Boston College. The Irish have claimed the first two BIG EAST women’s golf titles with Miami placing second, while Boston College and Georgetown finished third and fourth, respectively both seasons. The Irish have only faced St. John’s so far this season, defeating the Red Storm by 26 strokes at the Indiana Invitational (Apr. 2-3).
An automatic bid to the NCAA tournament field is not given to the BIG EAST victor, however the Irish hope to make it back to the regional for the second straight season after earning an at-large bid one year ago.
NOTRE DAME LINEUP: The Irish will have a mix of youth and experience on the course this weekend as junior Katie Brophy, sophomore Noriko Nakazaki, freshman Jane Lee, senior Karen Lotta and junior Suzie Hayes take to the course.
Brophy, a two-time all-BIG EAST performer and one-time medalist, will be appearing in her third BIG EAST Championship. She placed tied for fourth last year after claiming co-medalist honors as a freshman. The co-captain leads the team with a 75.81 stroke average during the 2004-05 season.
Nakazaki and Brophy have been the mainstays in the Irish lineup this year as they have appeared in every event. Nakazaki is second on the team with a 76.26 scoring average for the season and is leading the team with a spring average of 76.43 followed by Brophy’s 76.64. Nakazaki earned all-BIG EAST honors one year ago as a freshman with a team-best third-place finish.
Lee will be competing in her first conference tournament yet has racked up 10 event appearances so far during her rookie campaign. She possesses a scoring average of 78.62, while playing in 29 of a possible 31 rounds throughout the year.
Lotta is looking for her third all-BIG EAST performance after placing fifth in the inaugural tournament and seventh one year ago. The senior has played in seven events this campaign, including four of the five spring events prior to this weekend. She owns the third-best spring average on the team with a 78.91 clip to go along with a season mark of 77.70, which is good for fourth on the squad. Her top event of the year occurred at the Warren Golf Course during the Notre Dame Invitational (Sept. 4-5) as she placed in a tie for second with a five over par 221, including a school record round of 68 during the final 18 holes of play.
Hayes will take to the course for the third time in a BIG EAST Championship with already having garnered all-BIG EAST honors her freshman season when she placed fifth. The junior co-captain had a 15th-place showing in 2004. Hayes will take an overall scoring average of 78.53 into her fifth event of the spring and her eighth of the season. Her spring average of 79.50 is fifth-best on the team.
The Fighting Irish own an overall season stroke average of 305.45 and a spring average of 309.00.
LAST TIME OUT: The Irish registered an eighth-place showing out of the field of 15 at the Lady Buckeye Invitational on April 16-17 at the Scarlet Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio. Notre Dame carded its best round of the spring with a 14-over par 302 in the second round. Katie Brophy collected her seventh team-leading effort of the season and the 13th of her career, which ranks her third all-time in school history. The junior co-captain fired a seven-over par 223 to place tied for sixth overall. Noriko Nakazaki also produced a top-20 finish as she placed in a tie at 11th with a ten-over par 226.
Jane Lee turned in a three-over par 75 in the third round en route to a tie for 50th with a three round total of 242, while Suzie Hayes tallied a 54-hole total of 244, which tied her for 57th. Karen Lotta finished in a tie for 68th after carding a 248 and Stacy Brown fired a 250 to end up tied for 70th to round out the field for the Irish.
IRISH THOUGHTS: Irish head coach Debby King and junior co-captain Katie Brophy discuss the 2005 BIG EAST Championship.
Debby King – Head Coach
On the BIG EAST Championship …
“We really want to break 300 in at least one of the three rounds since we have not done that in a while. It’s great to play at home because the course can be difficult for the other teams so it’s definitely a home course advantage for us.”
On a possible NCAA bid …
“No matter what we do this weekend we will not gain or lose ground towards being selected for the NCAAs since we are not playing anyone from our region. We just don’t want to go out there and ruin our stroke average with bad play. So we are just mainly shooting for a low score.”
Katie Brophy – Junior
On personal and team goals for the BIG EAST Championship …
“We are confident that we will win but we are setting goals like breaking 300. We also hope to beat our personal bests and do really well. It’s basically a test for us against ourselves and the course.”
On playing at home for the tournament …
“There are certain aspects as to why I like to play at home because you know the course really well and how it plays and the break of the greens and things like that. But it can also be a disadvantage in a way because we know where the trouble spots are as well but you just try to avoid those.”
On the NCAA regional …
“We are planning on going to regional. That is our mindset right now. We are planning on taking our final exams early and just be prepared to go. We are pretty sure that we will be going but we still need to go out and win by a lot this weekend and play really well and lower our scoring average. Plus it’s a confidence boost to play really well and score well.”
BIG EAST SUCCESS: The Fighting Irish captured the first-ever women’s golf BIG EAST Championship title in 2003 by defeating runner-up Miami by 44 strokes. Notre Dame’s Katie Brophy, a freshman at the time, and Miami’s Tina Miller captured co-medalist honors with thirteen-over par totals of 229. Notre Dame’s Shannon Byrne, Suzie Hayes and Karen Lotta joined Brophy as all-BIG EAST members for the Irish. In 2004, the Irish claimed a 14-stroke victory over the Hurricanes as freshman Noriko Nakazaki led the way with a third-place finish. Brophy and Lotta garnered all-conference honors for the second straight season.
CENTRAL VICTORY: Notre Dame captured arguably its biggest victory in the history of the program on September 24-26 when the Irish won the Jeannine McHaney Invitational/Central Regional Preview by four strokes over Oklahoma. The Irish defeated some of the top teams in the central region with rounds of 296 and 297 (593/+17) on the course that will play host to the NCAA central regional on May 5-7. Not only did the Irish take home the team crown during the rain-shortened 36-hole event, junior co-captain Katie Brophy won the individual title with a three-under par 141 (69-72).
LOTTA SETS LOW MARK: Senior Karen Lotta fired a school-record round of 68 in the third round of the Notre Dame Invitational at the Warren Golf Course on September 5th. The four-under par total eclipsed the previous mark of 69 established three times by junior Katie Brophy and once by sophomore Noriko Nakazaki. Lotta’s previous low was an even-par 72.
SWEEPING TITLES: Three times this season Notre Dame has swept the team and individual titles at an event. At the Jeannine McHaney Invitational/Central Regional Preview, the Irish defeated the 18-team field with a 36-hole total of 593 (+17) and Katie Brophy was victorious with a 141 (-3) back on September 24-26. In the second event of the spring, Stacy Brown led the Irish charge at the St. Croix Collegiate Classic (Mar. 11-13) with a 12-over par 228 as the team posted an overall score of 919 (+55) to defeat the eight-team field. The following tournament featured another double-win with Noriko Nakazaki claiming first place at the Indiana Invitational (Apr. 2-3) after firing a two-over par 146 as part of Notre Dame’s 620 (+44) victorious total versus 18 other squads during the two-round tournament.
Brophy’s victory was the third of her Notre Dame career, which ranks her first all-time in school history. The wins by Brown and Nakazaki were the first of their Irish tenures and they joined six other Notre Dame golfers with at least one medalist finish in their career.
NEXT UP FOR THE FIGHTING IRISH: The Irish will wait to hear if they have been chosen as part of the 2005 NCAA tournament field. Selections are made Monday, April 25. The NCAA regional tournaments are played May 5-7.