Women’s golf team improves over summer

Tim Klobuchar

The season has barely begun, but Gophers women’s golf coach Kathy Williams thinks her team already has some momentum going.
A successful summer by several Gophers has helped Williams believe her team will be a Big Ten title contender this spring.
The three months that students aren’t in school are among the most important to collegiate golfers.
“You’ve got to be competitive all year round,” Williams said.
Competitive is precisely what some of the top returning Gophers were in tournaments this summer.
Senior co-captain Carolyn Klecker reached the semifinals of the United States Golf Association National Public Links tournament, and won the Minnesota state amateur match play championship.
Junior Keri Sawvell, from Prairie du Chien, Wisc., finished fifth in the Wisconsin state amateur championship.
Throw in junior All-Big Ten performer Amy Dahle and Williams has one of her strongest teams in her six years at Minnesota.
“Amy is one of our most experienced players, partly because she’s played a lot of junior golf, too,” Williams said. “She was our number one player all of last year, so she really anchors us.”
The Big Ten championships are a mere speck on the horizon now, but Williams believes that if her team can continue to improve through the changing of the seasons, there might be a changing of the guard at the top of the conference.
“We should be a contender for the Big Ten championship with our talent and experience,” Williams said. “If we put it all together, we’ll give some other teams a run for it.”
The other teams Williams was alluding to are defending champion Indiana and runner-up Ohio State. Williams still considers those two teams as favorites for the conference title.
Williams said that not only are the Gophers good, but they are unique in their practice habits.
“They’re the hardest workers I’ve ever had,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for better work ethic. They’ve put in a ton of extra time on their own this year.”
Williams is also confident in Minnesota’s ability to rebound. She gave a glowing appraisal of her team after the Gophers’ second tournament of the year, the Lady Northern Intercollegiate in East Lansing, Mich., held Sunday through Tuesday.
Minnesota finished eighth out of 15 teams. Six of the teams that finished ahead of the Gophers, however, are Big Ten teams.
In their season-opening tournament Sept. 14-15, the Gophers finished second out of 11 teams in the Minnesota Invitational. Tournament champion Oregon beat Minnesota by eight shots. The University Les Bolstad Golf Course on the St. Paul campus hosted the event.
The Gophers continue their fall season this weekend with the Lady Badger Invitational in Madison, Wisc. Seven of the 10 teams participating are in the Big Ten.
“We want to be geared up in the spring for Big Tens,” Williams said. “But the fall is just as important. We need to go into the spring with some confidence.”