April 20, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s golf team will travel to Louisville, Ky. for the BIG EAST Championship, which will take place April 22-24 at the par 72, 6,067-yard Oxmoor Country Club. The three-day event will feature 18 holes each day. Fighting Irish senior co-captain Noriko Nakazaki (Hanover Park, Ill./Hoffman Estates) is looking to earn her fourth straight all-BIG EAST honor. Louisville, the host school for the tournament, is the defending conference champion.
TOURNAMENT FORMAT: This season marks the fifth BIG EAST Women’s Golf Championship. There are seven members of the BIG EAST Conference that field a women’s golf program and all seven schools will be represented at the tournament
The Oxmoor Country Club and the University of Louisville will be first-time hosts for the event. Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course served as host for the first three conference championships, while the University of South Florida and the Lake Jovita Golf Club were the hosts in 2006.
The tournament will be comprised of 54 holes with each day consisting of one 18-hole round. Each team’s lineup will have five golfers with the lowest four scores for each round counting towards the overall team score. Every day of the championships will begin at 8:00 a.m. (ET) and will end approximately at 2:15 p.m., depending on the pace of play. Each day teams will be reseeded based on their scores from the previous round.
The seven individuals with the lowest 54-hole score at the end of the event will be selected as members of the all-BIG EAST Team. Unlike the men, the BIG EAST women’s tournament does not feature an automatic bid to the 2007 NCAA Golf Championship. The women will be eligible for an automatic qualification beginning next season.
FIELD: Louisville enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed and the defending champion. The Cardinals are ranked 34th according to Golfstat. That is the highest ranking for any team in the field. USF is the No. 2 seed and ranked 39th, while Notre Dame is the third seed and the Irish carry a ranking of 70th. Cincinnati, Georgetown, St. John’s and Rutgers round out seeds four through seven, respectively.
Notre Dame has faced four BIG EAST teams this season. The Irish are 1-0 against Georgetown and 0-1 against Cincinnati, Louisville and USF.
NOTRE DAME LINEUP: Notre Dame will feature a youthful lineup that includes three freshmen and a sophomore, however it will be the same five golfers that have played in each event this semester.
Noriko Nakazaki (Hanover Park, Ill./Hoffman Estates) will be in a familiar spot as she plays from the No. 1 position in the lineup. The senior leads the Irish with a 74.92 scoring average, which is on pace to eclipse her own school record of 75.41 established last season. Her 75.82 career scoring average is currently tops in program history. All 25 of her rounds this season have counted towards the team score and she holds the team’s top round (70, -2) and 54-hole total (219, +3).
Freshman Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) will play from the second spot. Brophy has competed in all nine tournaments this season and carries a 77.64 scoring average, which ranks her second on the team. Her low round of the season is a one-over par 73 and her top 54-hole total is a 229 (+13). She has had 21 of her 25 total rounds scored for the team. Brophy is coming off her top performance of the season as she finished tied for ninth at the Indiana Invitational with a 36-hole score of 151 (+7).
Fellow freshman Kristin Wetzel (Middletown, N.Y./Hilton Head Prep) will tee it up from the No. 3 spot in the Notre Dame lineup. She owns a 78.88 stroke average. Wetzel’s best three-round score of the season is a 16-over par 232, which included her top round of 72 (E) at the Lady Irish Invitational (Sept. 23-24). She has participated in all nine tournaments with 20 of her 25 rounds counting towards the team’s score.
The third freshman in the lineup is Julie Kim (Bayside, N.Y./Bayside), who will play from the fourth position. She has a 78.18 stroke average through four tournaments this spring season. Her top round is a one-over par 73 and her top 54-hole total is 229 (+13). She has had eight of 11 rounds scored for the team. Kim did not compete during the first semester due to an injury.
Lisa Maunu (St. Thomas, Ontario/Collegiate Parkside Institute) rounds out the Fighting Irish lineup from the No. 5 spot. The sophomore has a 78.20 season scoring average. Her top round is a one-under par 71, which she achieved twice. Maunu’s low three-round score of the season is a 222 (+6) at the Cougar Classic (Sept. 11-12). Her rounds have counted towards the team total on 21 of 25 occasions.
LAST TIME OUT: Noriko Nakazaki shot an even-par 72 during the second and final round of the Indiana Invitational on April 10 at the 5,938-yard Crooked Stick Golf Club to finish tied for second with a three-over par 147. The senior co-captain helped Notre Dame post a 302 (+14) on the day and finish the event in fifth place with a 36-hole score of 612. Michigan took the team title with a 603 total. Inclement weather shortened the tournament from 54 holes to 36.
Michigan posted a tournament-best score of 295 (+7) during the last round to surge to the top of the 17-team field. No. 23 Michigan State, the highest-ranked team in the event, finished second with a 606, while Illinois and Oregon rounded out the top-four teams with respective scores of 609 and 610.
Illinois’ Seul Ki Park entered the day in first place and would finish a top the leader board by registering her second even-par round of the tournament. Nakazaki and Michigan State’s Rachel Meikle finished three shots in back with 147 totals. Nakazaki’s finish was the top for any Irish golfer this season. Oregon’s Cathryn Bristow and Kimberly McCready both carded the tournament’s top round of 70 on Tuesday.
Fighting Irish freshman Annie Brophy recorded the first top-10 finish of her young career as she tied for ninth with a seven-over par 151 (77-74). Fellow freshman Kristin Wetzel matched Brophy’s two-over par 74 on the day and ended in a tie for 30th with a 155 (81-74).
Julie Kim, the third Irish rookie in the lineup, carded rounds of 78 and 82 to finish tied for 57th with a 160 total. Sophomore Lisa Maunu ended the tournament with a 163 (80-83) and tied for 70th to complete the Notre Dame scoring.
BIG EAST HISTORY: Notre Dame captured the first-ever BIG EAST Championship in 2003 by topping runner-up Miami by 44 strokes. The Irish followed that up with another title in 2004 by 14 shots over Miami. St. John’s took the 2005 tournament, which was shortened from 54 holes to 18 due to poor weather conditions. The Red Storm finished seven strokes ahead of Georgetown. Louisville bested runner-up Georgetown by 21 shots last season. The Fighting Irish finished third in 2005 and tied for third in 2006.
Five Irish golfers have combined to collect 11 all-BIG EAST honors since the tournament began in 2003. Nakazaki, who is the only golfer in the 2007 Fighting Irish lineup to have played in a conference tournament, is tied for the program record with three all-BIG EAST honors. She will be gunning for a medalist finish and her fourth all-conference accolade beginning Sunday at the Oxmoor Country Club.
Notre Dame has had two BIG EAST co-medalists. Katie Brophy tied for first as a freshman at the 2003 tournament, while Karen Lotta did the same at the 2005 event during her senior campaign. Nakazaki is tied with Brophy, the older sister of current Irish freshman Annie Brophy, and Lotta with three all-league honors. Louisville’s Adrienne White took home medalist honors last season and she is back to defend her title this year.
IRISH THOUGHTS: Notre Dame head coach Susan Holt discusses the BIG EAST Championship …
“I like the progress that we’ve made to this point of the season. At our last tournament (the Indiana Invitational at Crooked Stick) we were first by one shot after the 31st hole. Obviously, we didn’t finish strong. We hope to put ourselves in the same position this time and then finish stronger.”
“We are working more on the mental side of the game rather than our swing. We are in good shape with our swing mechanics. Right now we just need to do the little things and build on that. I don’t know what our postseason possibilities are at this point, but I just hope we finish strong at this tournament.”
RESULTS: Scores will be posted every nine holes on www.golfstat.com. Final results and a complete recap from each day of the championships will be available on www.bigeast.org.