Dec. 1, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s golf team concluded its 2010 fall season ranked 17th by GolfStat.com, the highest ranking in program history, while freshman Nicole Zhang (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll) earned a postseason ranking of 20th, making her the No. 1 freshman golfer in the country.
“We had more depth on our team this season than in the past five years,” head coach Susan Holt said. “I think that took a lot of pressure off of everyone, allowing them to just go out and play. Nicole and Kristina Nhim played a great deal in the amount of depth we had. They have both done a great job of stepping up throughout the fall season and giving the team quality rounds at key moments. They are consistent players and it is great to be able to depend on them to produce for us each time they tee up.”
The Irish commenced their fall season on at high note, taking first at the Mary Fossum Invitational (Sept. 25-26) at the Forest Akers West Golf Club in East Lansing, Mich. The team posted an 897 (+26) and was led by Zhang. The freshman made a memorable debut with the Irish, carding a nine-under-par score of 207 in the two-day tournament. Zhang’s 54-hole score was the lowest in program history. Additionally, she was the only competitor at the tournament to record a score under par. Her score broke the previous tournament record of 214 (-7).
“I have improved my mental game and confidence since transitioning from high school,” Zhang said. “College golf has been a major transition from junior golf because I’m not able to practice for hours everyday, and so I have learned to use my practice time more efficiently and practice with a purpose. When it comes to tournaments, I have learned to just play the game and have confidence in myself.”
Additionally, junior Katie Allare (Phoenix, Ariz./St. Xavier) tallied her best 54-hole score of the fall season at the Mary Fossum Invitational, a 230 (+14).
The Irish continued their success when they claimed the crown at their own William K. Warren Irish Invitational (Oct. 2-3) at the Warren Golf Course in Notre Dame, Ind. The tournament welcomed 12 teams, including Kent State, Ohio State, Louisville and Michigan. Zhang again led the Irish, tying for second place with a 218 (+2) in 54 holes.
“What was most different about going into this season was that the team was mentally prepared and felt like we were ready to play from the very start,” senior So-Hyun Park (Seoul, South Korea/Bradenton Prep. Academy) said. “There was no ambiguity or uncertainty about whether we will play well or not, we just knew what we had to do to get our job done. Winning our first tournament of the season certainly helped build our confidence.”
The Mercedes-Benz Championship marked the third tournament of the fall season and the team placed fifth in the 15-team field. The Irish posted a 876 (+12) in the three-day contest at the Holston Hills Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn. Zhang fired a 216 for an even-par score, while Park posted a 217 (+1). The duo finished in the top-15 as Zhang tied for ninth and Park closed out the tournament in a tie for 13th. Senior captain Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y./Shoreham-Wading River) recorded a 73 (+1), her best round of golf during the fall season at the contest during the first round.
Junior Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo./Littleton) recorded a 54-hole total of 218 (+2) at the three-day Landfall Tradition (Oct. 22-24), helping the Irish finish sixth among the 18 participating teams. Notre Dame recorded a total 896 (+32) score at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C.
Notre Dame closed its fall slate at the Alamo Invitational at the Briggs Ranch in San Antonio, Texas, in third place. Zhang, Park and freshman Kristina Nhim (Cypress, Calif./Cypress) finished in the top 10 at the tournament. Zhang fired a one-under-par 215 for third place, while Park tied for fourth (217/+1) and Nhim posted a 220 (+4) to tie for ninth.
The team posted a 53-11-0 record against Division I opponents during the fall, defeating Michigan State three times.
The Irish begin their spring season Feb. 21 at the Central District Invitational at the River Wilderness Course in Parrish, Fla.
“I know we have yet to play our best golf. Our team is capable of much more and I am confident that they will get over the hurdle in the spring,” Holt said. “As a group, they are never satisfied with what they shoot, so there is always room to improve and grow, and that will allow us to make the necessary adjustments and play some great golf in the spring.”