Women’s golf team looks to hole a top-20 finish

Stephanie Strommen

Every fantasy football manager has had it happen to them: a gut feeling that leads to the selection of a handful of players who don’t produce, while the bench scores points in bunches.
Gophers women’s golf coach suffered a similar fate in selecting her team for the Minnesota Invite Sept. 12-13. The maroon team played well enough to finish third, but the gold team — which wasn’t eligible to compete for points — finished seven strokes better.
Although Minnesota went into the tournament confident of a win, the team came out inspired by the success of the second team. Williams, meanwhile, was stuck with the enviable problem of having more than enough solid players from which to choose.
But Williams shifts the pressure to the players by allowing those with the best scores to play in the following tournament.
“It’s every coach’s dream, yet every coach’s nightmare,” said coach Kathy Williams. “Overall it’s a good thing to see because it’s so competitive. At any given time anyone can step up and (make the first team). It only makes my team stronger and pushes them all to be better.”
Sophomore Jenny Bruun placed third with a 36-hole score of 151. Bruun, who traveled with the team just once last season, played on the gold team and was only allowed to compete individually.
“Jenny struggled in our qualifier, but got it all worked out in the tournament,” Williams said. “Her strokes have great length and she is competitive. She will be a major contributor this year.”
Senior Melanie Lepp placed fourth with a score of 152 and transfer Katie Bakken placed sixth in her first match as a Gopher.
There is tough competition for a spot on the traveling team among an experienced group of seniors. Kristi Wiechert, Donna Boom and Emily Norby have traveled with the team throughout their careers and will bring experience to the team.
Lepp was also a leader last season, playing 31 rounds with a stroke average of 78.90. Williams believes her success lies in her confidence and determination. That is something each player will need to keep a spot on the traveling team.
“The pressure gets less and less each year,” Lepp said. “I think a lot of people do feel the pressure. Last year, pretty much the same people were traveling. It gives everybody on the team hope and makes them really want to play.”
Williams said she feels the team has the best chemistry of any she has coached. With the depth and heart this team has shown, it should be an interesting year.
“Our goal is to finish among the top 20 teams in the country,” Williams said. “Right now we’re just trying to find our lineup.”