July 27, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Fresh off a second consecutive BIG EAST Conference title and the first NCAA Championship appearance in school history, the Notre Dame women’s golf team hasn’t rested on its collective laurels. To the contrary, several Irish golfers have turned in stellar performances this summer, led by a pair of student-athletes who recently qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship that will be held Aug. 9-15 in Erie, Pa., at The Kahkwa Club.
Rising juniors Katie Brophy (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) and Lauren Gebauer (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington HS) both played their way into the U.S. Women’s Amateur with solid outings in the sectional qualifying round. Brophy carded a two-over par 74 and finished tied for fifth in the sectional qualifier held July 7 in Portland, Ore., on the Witch Hollow Course at the famed Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. With seven qualifying spots available at her sectional, Brophy was one of final three players to advance, moving ahead in a playoff. Brophy also competed in the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Women’s Amateur at the Bend (Ore.) Country Club, tying for second in stroke play at two-over par 148 (75-73) and winning her first two contests in match play before losing to eventual champion Renee Skidmore.
Meanwhile, Gebauer battled through windy conditions to fire a five-over par 77 and earn a fourth-place tie in the sectional qualifier conducted in Pittsburgh, Pa., on July 8 at the Edgewood Country Club. Gebauer was one of nine players to advance out of the Pittsburgh sectional, highlighting a strong summer for the Buckeye State native. She also tied for third in stroke play with a 74 at the Ohio Women’s Amateur, advancing to the second round of match play before losing on the second extra hole. In addition, Gebauer was third in qualifying at the Franklin County (Ohio) Women’s Amateur and charged through match play all the way to the title match, where she lost to Allison Reifers, 2 and 1.
The Irish nearly had a third qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Amateur, but rising sophomore Noriko Nakazaki (Hanover Park, Ill./Hoffman Estates HS) missed out by three shots, registering a 10-over par 80 on July 15 in Waukegan, Ill., at the Glen Flora Country Club. However, Nakazaki did have better luck in several other tournaments, including a third-place finish at the Illinois Women’s Open, where she fired a one-over par 217 (70-77-70) on the Mistwood Golf Course in suburban Chicago. She also participated in the USGA Women’s Public Links Championship at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va., tying for 40th place in stroke play with a four-over par 148 (74-74). Nakazaki then moved on to match play, where she upset the No. 15 seed Kwan-Chih Lu of Chinese Taipei in the first round before falling to Elena Kurokawa in round two on the third playoff hole. In addition, Nakazaki made the second round of match play at the Illinois State Amateur Championship.
One of the more uplifting stories of the summer has been the play of rising senior Casey Rotella (Keswick, Va./Monticello HS). Hampered by an injury for much of the past two seasons, Rotella looked very sharp in winning the Charlottesville (Va.) Women’s City Championship by a staggering 10 strokes with a three-under par 137. She was especially superb in the second round of the two-day event, carding a three-under 67 that featured five birdies on the par-70 Meadowcreek Golf Course. It was the third Charlottesville city title for the Irish southpaw, who also won crowns in 1999 and 2001.
Overseas, rising junior Suzie Hayes (Dublin, Ireland/Loreto College St. Stephen’s Green) has played in a pair of tournaments close to home. She placed 10th during qualifying at the Irish Ladies Close Championships, shooting a six-over par 156 at the tricky par-75 Island Golf Club. She then moved to the second round of match play before losing to Clare Coughlan. Hayes also advanced to the semifinals of match play at the Leinster Ladies Championships, falling to Maura Morrin at the par-73 Forrest Little Golf Club.
“These performances just go to show that it doesn’t matter whether you play at a northern or southern school, you can still qualify for big tournaments,” Notre Dame head coach Debby King said. “Casey’s effort in Charlottesville was very encouraging with her coming back from injury.”
King and the Irish will have seven monogram winners returning this fall, as Notre Dame seeks to defend its back-to-back BIG EAST titles and return to the NCAA Championship for the second year in a row.
— ND —