Women's Golf |
March 19, 2009
By JEFF GENTIL
Given the February weather, it may seem hard to believe that the UC men's and women's golf teams are just about ready to kick off the spring portion of their schedules. Both teams competed in tournaments in the fall and had the entire winter to work on their game to be ready when the weather breaks. With the aid of the school's new indoor golf facility, the UC golfers have the opportunity to make such improvements without leaving campus.
On the women's side, Janet Carl, in her fifth year as head coach -- and recently named the 2008 recipient of the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) Founders Award -- has a team still dealing with the loss of standouts Hillery Wilson and Allison Mayborg to graduation. But it's a team with plenty of potential and room to improve.
"We're a young team," Carl said, "but I was extremely pleased with our fall performance. We averaged three strokes lower in the fall (than last season). We averaged 307 strokes per round and our goal is to get to 305. I found out our players hit fairways and greens-in-regulation about the same as (LPGA) Tour players, but our short game and putting were lacking. We've made a real commitment this winter to improving our putting."
With performances like the 294 score in the final round of the Sea Trail Intercollegiate in Sunset Beach, N.C., in the fall, their average score could very easily reach the 305 goal.
Leading the way is sophomore Bambee Dela Paz, who came to UC from the Philippines. Dela Paz shot an impressive 222 in the three-day even at Sunset Beach to grab second place overall individually. Coach Carl is expecting bigger things out of her this spring.
"Bambee battled Hillery (Wilson) for the number one player all of last season," Carl said. "She brings a heightened determination to the program. She has made a commitment to her physical fitness and to her short game."
In addition to working on her putting and short game, Dela Paz says she's been working on some other things as well.
"I've been revamping my swing this winter," she said. "I've changed my backswing. Everything is still in the works, but I hope to have it perfected by the time the season starts. But again, it's really all about putting and the short game. The short game is the difference between good and bad teams. We all have been working so hard. We have a different mindset. I expect us all to shoot better than before."
Freshman Anna Cumtell is a player who has already made quite an impact on the team. She placed a team-high third with a combined 154 strokes at the Lady Herd Fall Classic at Marshall University and also a team-high ninth with a 153 at the UAB Fall Beach Bash.
"She brings a mental game," Coach Carl said. "It's something the others really look up to. She isn't as strong as the others but getting the ball in the hole is the most important thing and she truly understands that concept. She was our best player in the fall and set some personal scoring records and certainly helped us pick up the pieces."
Senior Marianne Erb brings senior leadership according to Carl:
"She's our captain and one of the hardest workers on the team. She has the drive and desire to succeed."
Kate Moore, a sophomore from Australia, is still learning the game since coming to the U.S.
"She's a very raw talent," Carl said. "She hasn't had much instruction, but she's embraced the physical aspect of our program. She has been working harder than ever. She was pretty frustrated at first because all the time and energy she spent was not showing up on the course. But in the fall, she really played outstanding."
The women open their season Feb. 21-24 in South Carolina at the Kiawah Island Invitational.
On the men's side, Coach Doug Martin, entering his third season at UC, has a number of young players, but the talent is there to have a good season.
"We are a very young team," Martin said. "Most of our lineup are freshmen and sophomores. We have just one senior, Alberto Fernandez, who is going to play regularly. It's going to take some time for our guys to grow, but I expect them to play good and compete."
Despite their youth, Martin isn't backing off his demands.
"I saw some good things in the fall," he said. "Their work ethic has stepped up. I demand excellence and they've worked hard. So far, they've done a good job."
In addition, Martin has challenged them with a difficult schedule that includes some of the top teams in the country.
"This is going to be the best and toughest schedule in UC golf history," he said. "We're going to play in a tournament with the top two teams in the country, in Oklahoma State and Georgia. It's an opportunity to compete and it will be a benchmark for our program to see what other programs are doing differently. Hopefully, we can raise our game."
Coach Martin describes Fernandez as a great leader for the Bearcats with all the skills to be an outstanding player.
"Alberto has been a great `program' player," he said. "He hasn't reached his potential, but he's primed to have his best quarter yet. He has struggled with his putter, but he has made the commitment to become a better putter."
Fernandez hasn't yet had the chance to see if his stroke has improved, but feels much more confident with his renewed efforts.
"I spent three hours putting every day," he said. "It has been my biggest weakness. But my confidence is up and I just have to keep working hard. I can be a pretty good player, but I just never put the effort into becoming the player I want to be."
Sophomore Joe Kastelic is a player Martin has very high hopes for.
"Without a doubt, he has unlimited potential," Martin said. "He needs to work on his focus, but once he does that, he can do some great things. He is very consistent and has a good understanding of how to play golf. He has all the skills; he just has to hone it in."
Kurt Harris, a freshman from Dublin, Ohio, is a former All-Ohio golfer in high school and is learning to combine his talent and the mental side of the game.
"He's had a great offseason," Martin said. "He's very talented. He has a great body for golf, but he has to understand how to play. He's starting to turn the corner."
For sophomore Nick Proud, Martin would like to see him play with a little more "freedom" to see his talent shine through.
"He didn't play much as a freshman, but then he came out and won our first two qualifying matches in the fall," Martin said. "He has great potential, but he needs to relax and play golf and not play so uptight."
(This story was previously printed in the Bearcat Sports Digest.)