Katie Conway and the Irish will be aiming for their fourth victory of the 2007-08 season this weekend at the Rio Verde Invitational.

Notre Dame Heads To Arizona For The Rio Verde Invitational

March 6, 2008

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 20 Notre Dame women’s golf team will tee it up at the Rio Verde Collegiate Invitational beginning on Friday, March 7 in Rio Verde, Arizona. The three-day, 54-hole event will be held at the par 72, 6,313-yard Quail Run Course at the Rio Verde Country Club. This marks the second event of the spring for the Fighting Irish, who are coming off a 10th-place finish at the Central District Invitational.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: Each team’s lowest four scores for each round will count towards the overall team score. The tournament, which will run from Friday, March 7 through Sunday, March 9, will consist of 54 holes with all three days featuring 18 holes of play. Friday’s first round will begin with a shotgun start at 1:00 p.m. (MT). The final two days will commence with a shotgun start at 8:00 a.m. (MT). Western Michigan University is the host for the event.

FIELD: A field of 18 teams will take to the Quail Run Course (par 72, 6,313-yard) at the Rio Verde Country Club. Notre Dame enters as the highest-ranked squad as the Irish are 20th in the latest Golfstat rankings. Texas Tech is next in line at No. 53, while Wisconsin is 64th. Completing the field in order of ranking is Eastern Michigan (69), Arkansas-Little Rock (82), Cincinnati (88), Illinois State (95), Ball State (115), Southern Illinois (118), Minnesota (120), Missouri State (123), Bradley (124), Western Michigan (128), Northern Arizona (130), Toledo (135), Xavier (147), Ohio University (177) and Bowling Green (187).

NOTRE DAME LINEUP: Junior co-captain Lisa Maunu (St. Thomas, Ontario/Parkside Collegiate Institute) is coming off her third team-leading effort of the season and will play from the top spot in the Irish lineup at the Rio Verde Invitational. Maunu has four top-10 finishes this season, including a victory at the Cougar Classic. She carries a 74.11 season stroke average, which ranks her second on the squad. Maunu carded a school-record round of 66 (-6) at the Cougar Classic en route to winning with a program-record 54-hole total of 210 (-6).

Freshman So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea/Bradenton Prep (FL)) carries a team-best 73.17 stroke average into this weekend’s action. Park will play from the second spot in the Irish lineup. The rookie finished in the top seven of all five fall tournaments. She captured a victory at the Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup and was the runner-up at the Cougar Classic and at the Ann Rhoads Intercollegiate, which was the final event of the fall. Park possesses a top round of 69 (-3) and a top 54-hole total of 213 (-3) this season.

Playing from the third position for Notre Dame will be freshman Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y./Shoreham-Wading River). Conway possesses a 76.44 scoring average with a top round of 73 (+1). Her best three-round total is 226 (+10) and her top finish of the first semester occurred at the Wolverine Invitational where she tied for ninth.

Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) brings a 77.28 season stroke average into play this weekend. The sophomore will tee it up from the fourth position for Notre Dame. Her top round this season is a one-over par 73, while her top three-round mark is a 222 (+6). Brophy’s top finish of the campaign came at the Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup where she tied for 21st.

Kristin Wetzel (Middletown, N.Y./Hilton Head Prep (SC)) rounds out the Notre Dame lineup. Wetzel has a 77.22 scoring average so far during her sophomore season. Her top round this season is a career-best one-under par 71 and her best 54-hole total of the campaign is a seven-over par 223, which is also a career-low mark. Wetzel’s top finish this season occurred at the Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup where she tied for 13th.

Sophomore Julie Kim (Bayside, N.Y./Bayside) will be competing in her first event of the 2007-08 campaign as she plays as an individual entrant. Last season, Kim played in five tournaments and registered a 77.71 scoring average. Her top round was an even-par 72 and her best 54-hole total was a 12-over par 228. Kim earned all-BIG EAST honors by finishing eighth at the conference championship.

TOURNAMENT NOTES: The Fighting Irish are making the most of the University’s spring break as the team and coaches headed to Arizona on Saturday, March 1 in preparation for the Rio Verde Invitational … the residents of the Rio Verde Country Club have graciously opened their homes to house to over 125 golfers, coaches and team staff who are making the trip for this year’s event … Baylor won last year’s tournament with a 22-over par 886 … Baylor’s Allison Martin copped medalist honors with a four-under par 212.

LAST TIME OUT: Notre Dame carded a 314 during the third and final round of the Central District Invitational on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the par 72, 6,099-yard River Wilderness Golf Club in Parrish, Fla. The Fighting Irish concluded the two-day event, which was their first competition of the spring, with a three-round total of 929 (315-300-314) and in 10th place. Michigan State, the host for the tournament, topped the 15-team field with an 892 (291-298-303).

Sara Brown made it a clean sweep for the 23rd-ranked Spartans as she claimed medalist honors with a four-under par 212 (70-70-72). Her two rounds of 70 (-2) during the first day of play marked the low rounds for the tournament, while Michigan State’s first-round 291 (+3) was the top team round. Missouri’s Julia Potter was the runner-up with a three-over par 219.

Texas A&M finished 10 shots in back of Michigan State and in second place. Rounding out the top-five was No. 14 Kent State (912), Ohio State (913) and Texas (914).

Pacing the Irish was Lisa Maunu, who finished with a 12-over par 228 (77-74-77) and in a three-way tie for 15th among the field of 72 golfers. Maunu’s five-over par 77 on Tuesday was the top round of the day for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame freshman So-Hyun Park was one shot in back of her teammate with a 229 (75-75-79) and in a five-way tie for 18th. Fellow freshman Katie Conway carded a six-over par 78 during the third round to finish with a 233 (79-76-78) and tied for 31st.

A pair of sophomores completed the Fighting Irish lineup. Annie Brophy registered a 239 (84-75-80) total and tied for 50th, while Kristin Wetzel notched a 243 (85-78-80) and tied for 61st.

UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS: Notre Dame opened the 2007-08 campaign with wins at the Cougar Classic (Sept. 9-11), Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup (Sept. 17-18) and at the Wolverine Invitational (Sept. 29-30) before registering a runner-up finish at the Lady Paladin Invitational (Oct. 19-21). This season signifies the first time in program history that Notre Dame has ever won three straight tournaments. It also marks just the fourth time in the 20-year history of the program that the Irish have captured three events in a season. Notre Dame won four times during both the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. The Irish won three tournaments during the 2000-01 campaign.

IRISH THOUGHTS: Notre Dame head coach Susan Holt discusses her team’s play down in Arizona as they get ready for the Rio Verde Collegiate Invitational …

“We played really well on Tuesday. We played that same course on Monday during some difficult weather conditions and we struggled. They came back yesterday and played really well. The courses out here are difficult because they are hard and fast. Plus, it’s tough to have a good depth perception because everything is so big with the mountains. Your bad shots tend to get magnified out here.”

“We are starting to clean up our play and not beat ourselves. We’ll have the target on our back this weekend if you look at the rankings. I just hope we respond well to that and focus on ourselves and how we play and not worry about the other teams. We’ve played better every day since we’ve been here and let’s just hope that continues into the weekend.”

RESULTS: Live scoring of the Rio Verde Collegiate Invitational can be followed at golfstat.com. Full results will also be posted on www.wmubroncos.com.

NEXT UP: The Fighting Irish return to the course on March 17-19 at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational in Austin, Texas. The tournament will be played at the University Golf Club.