Sept. 16, 2011
Notre Dame, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s golf team will travel to Colorado to open the 2011-12 season, beginning on Monday, Sept. 19 when the Irish participate in the 18-team Golfweek Conference Challenge at the Red Sky Golf Club in Wolcott, Colo. The 54-hole tournament will be played on the par-72, 6,247 Tom Fazio course that is ranked as the No. 1 course in Colorado. The Golfweek Conference Challenge is in its third season and pits the top-ranked teams from each conference based on the fall Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings are invited to participate in the conference challenge. If that team can’t participate, the next highest ranked team is invited from that conference. The Irish were winners of the 2011 BIG EAST Tournament and finished the year ranked 25th in the nation.
“This is our first time playing in the Golfweek Conference Challenge and will be an excellent challenge for our team as it features some of the top teams in the country,” says Irish head coach Susan Holt.
“This tournament gives us a different look as we will be facing several programs from the west coast that we normally don’t see. It’s a sign of where we’ve come as a program and we will be competing against many of the top programs every week. This will give us a true sense of where we stand as a team this early in the season.”
TOURNAMENT FACTS: Name: The Golfweek Conference Challenge (hosted by the University of Denver) Course: The Tom Fazio Course at Red Sky Golf Club in Wolcott, Colo. (Par 72, 6,247 yards) Field: 18 teams (2010 final Golfweek/Sagarin ranking): Pepperdine (20), Notre Dame (25), UC-Davis (26), Oklahoma (27), Tennessee- Chattanooga (31), TCU (33), Oregon (34), Minnesota (39), Coastal Carolina (41), Mississippi (42), Tulsa (46), Denver, New Mexico State, Texas-San Antonio, Western Michigan, Kennesaw State, Georgia State, Pennsylvania.
TOURNAMENT UPDATES: Live scoring for the tournament will be available at www.golfstat.com. Recaps of each days round and everything you need to know about Notre Dame women’s golf will be available at und.com.
THE COACH: Susan Holt begins her sixth season as the women’s golf coach at Notre Dame and her 22nd as a Division I head coach. She also served a head coach at Purdue University (1990-93) and the University of South Florida (1993-2006). In her first five seasons at Notre Dame, the Irish have won a pair of BIG EAST titles (2008 and 2011), made four NCAA regional appearances (2008, `09, `10, 11) and advanced to the NCAA Championships for the first time last May (2011) where they finished 22nd overall. A two-time BIG EAST coach of the year (2008, 2011), Holt’s teams have turned in the top four team averages during her tenure. In 2010-11, the Irish turned in four, first-place finishes, including the 2011 BIG EAST championship.
IRISH LINEUP: Notre Dame’s five-person lineup will include: Becca Huffer (Sr., Denver, Colo.); Katie Allare (Sr., Phoenix, Ariz.), Kristina Nihm (So., Cypress, Calif.), Ashley Armstrong (Fr., Flossmoor, Ill.) and Kelli Oride (Fr., Lihue, Hawaii). Huffer is a three time all-BIG EAST selection who was second on the team in 2010-11 with a 74.97 stroke average. Her 75.14 average for her career is the second-lowest total in the program’s history. Allare saw action in six tournaments as a junior and had a 78.33 average. As a freshman, Nihm played in 12 tournaments and had a 76.22 average in her rookie year. She finished third at the BIG EAST Tournament last spring. Armstrong and Oride will be playing in their first collegiate tournaments at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
THE GOLFWEEK CONFERENCE CHALLENGE: This is the third year that Golfweek is sponsoring the Conference Challenge for both the men and the women. The men’s tournament will be played on Sept. 24-27 at the Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa. The previous women’s tournament winners:
2009: Pepperdine (at Primm Valley Desert Course, Primm, Nev.)
2010: Virginia (Fazio Course at Red Sky Golf Club, Wolcott, Colo.)
NATIONAL RANKINGS: The Notre Dame women’s golf team is ranked 25th in the Golf World/NGCA Coaches’ Preseason Poll. One other team appearing in this week’s tournament is ranked in the top 25 – Pepperdine, as the Waves are ranked 22nd in the preseason poll.
ONE OF THE BEST: Golfweek Magazine has ranked the Notre Dame women’s golf team’s home course – The Warren Golf Course – as one of the top 15 college golf courses in the nation. To qualify for the Golfweek’s Best Campus Courses list, a course must be part of a school’s recreational life in terms of preferential access for students, faculty and alumni. Last year, Golfweek ranked the Warren Golf Course as the 14th-best college golf course. This year the home course of the Irish moved up two notches to 12th, passing the likes of the University of Michigan Golf Course and Duke University Golf Course. Co-designed by Bill Coore and PGA Tour veteran Ben Crenshaw, the Warren Golf Course opened on May 1, 2000 and has played host to three U.S. Amateur Championship qualifiers, the `05 and `10 men’s NCAA Central Regional, the `11 women’s NCAA Central Regional, three Western Amateur Championship qualifiers, five BIG EAST Conference Men’s Championships and three BIG EAST Women’s Championships.
THE CAPTAIN: Senior Becca Huffer will serve as the team’s captain for the 2011-12 season. A three-time all-BIG EAST selection, Huffer is coming off her best season at Notre Dame as she turned in four, top-10 finishes as a junior, including a career-best second-place finish at the John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate last spring as she carded a five-under par 211 in leading the Irish to a tournament win. For the season, Huffer’s 74.97 stroke average was second on the team and the second lowest of her career. In 34 career tournaments, covering 100 rounds, the industrial design major owns a 75.14 career stroke average that is second best in the program’s history. During her Notre Dame golf career, Huffer has helped the Irish to a BIG EAST Championship in 2011 and two second-place finishes in 2009 and 2010. The 2009 BIG EAST rookie of the year, she had her best conference finish last season as she finished fourth overall with a seven-over par 223. Huffer has participated in three NCAA Regionals and in 2011 helped Notre Dame to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Championship. As a junior in 2010-11, Huffer helped Notre Dame to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Championships as the team finished fifth at the Central Regional and then 22nd in the NCAA Championships in Bryan, Tex. There, she was Notre Dame’s top finisher with a 72-hole total of eight-over par, 296.
NEW KIDS: Freshmen Ashley Armstrong and Kelli Oride will see their first action this week at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and are no strangers to playing in top tournaments. The duo brings impressive credentials to the Irish lineup. Armstrong is a two-time HP Scholastic Junior All-American and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur this past summer. A top-five finisher in the Illinois Class AA golf championship in all four of her seasons at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, she was third in her senior season (2010). A four-time team MVP, Armstrong capped her summer of 2011 by winning the Women’s Western Amateur Tournament in July. Oride is a three-time state medalist and a two-time runner-up from Hawaii. She qualified as an alternate for the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open Tournament. Oride was ranked 20th in Golfweek’s class of 2011 rankings while Armstrong was ranked 41st.
HOMECOMING: Senior Becca Huffer will get a chance to play in front of her family this week as she is from Denver, Colo., where she played was a four-year letter winner at Littleton High School. She was named Colorado’s 2008 high school female athlete of the year by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Huffer won the 2008 Colorado championship by 13 strokes with a five-under par 139. She also won the 2006 5A championship and was selected the 2006 all-Colorado player of the year by the Denver Post. A three-time Denver Post all-Colorado pick, she was the 2006 Colorado sportswomen of the year in golf and also was selected as the Rocky Mountain News Colorado player of the year in 2006.
NEXT FOR THE IRISH: The Notre Dame women’s golf team will follow up next week’s trip to the Golfweek Conference Challenge with a trip to the prestigious Tar Heel Invitational at the University of North Carolina’s Finley Golf Course from Oct. 7-9. This will be the first-ever appearance for the Irish in this tournament.