Weiss shifts focus to next fall

Women’s golf will begin the season with a young but more experienced squad.

by Adam Fink

It didn’t take long for Minnesota’s women’s golf coach Katie Weiss to answer after being asked about the Gophers’ future following an 11th-place finish at the Big Ten Championships.

“I am ready to close the chapter on the spring season and start working toward the fall,” Weiss said. “I am not going to rehash every stroke or every swing.

“I am shocked we didn’t play better. I guess it is time to go back to the drawing board.”

Weiss said she isn’t sure where the season turned sour. She had the Gophers work extensively on their short game in the two weeks leading up to the Big Ten Championships.

And Minnesota’s ability to hit off the tee was already considered a strength.

Weiss, however, does have many positives to look forward to next season, including arguably the most talented roster in the last three years.

That group includes five golfers who played for the Big Ten title last weekend, except senior Katie Jacobson, who will not be returning.

Next year’s group will again be young but much more experienced. Terra Petsinger will be the only senior on the roster.

Petsinger, who watched the growth of this year’s two freshmen and two sophomores, said experience plays a large role and will be a key component for success next season.

“I remember when I was a freshman,” Petsinger said. “I learned so much, but my scores weren’t very good. There are so many adjustments to make.”

Sophomore Sarah Butler indicated to her teammates and coaching staff that she had made the adjustments as she blossomed during the spring season.

Freshman Sophie Stubbs also proved to be the real deal, having a strong spring season for Minnesota.

Underclassmen Louise Fleming and Jessica Thomas, while flying under the radar this season, typically finished as the Gophers’ worst scorers, but should improve with another year under their belts.

Two Minnesota freshmen – Ashley Bruun and Brittany Willborg – redshirted this season and will have four years of eligibility left beginning next year.

“I think this team is going to play much better next season,” Jacobson said. “The experience is invaluable and there is the talent in place.”

Next year will also likely bring about expectations and greater practice competition. The Gophers have put some distance from 2002 when the program was on the chopping blocks, the coach resigned and golfers transferred.

In addition, many spots in the Gophers’ rotation were handed out – as much as earned – because of having only six eligible golfers. Next season, increased competition will force players to improve and fight for a lineup spot.

Stubbs, who said she thought the team underachieved this year, also believes next year’s team will show vast improvements.

She said the team always has high expectations for itself, but next year, it should have the pieces in place to perform to its preseason outlook.

“We kind of underperformed,” Stubbs said. “We know what we should be doing. We need to get out of our comfort zones and start excelling.”