Big Ten Women's Golf Championships Preview
The Ohio State women's golf team will invade rival territory in hopes of earning its fourth consecutive Big Ten Women's Golf Championship, when the University of Michigan hosts the 2005 Big Ten Championships from April 22-24. The University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor will be the site of the event for the third time and the first in ten years, but Big Ten competitors will not be unfamiliar with the track. In September, the Wolverines hosted the Lady Northern Invitational and all 11 conference squads were in the field. On their home turf, U-M tied the University of Missouri for the tournament victory.
The 115th ranked Illinois Fighting Illini come into the Big Ten Championships with momentum. Having won the Illini Spring Classic during the regular season's final weekend, the Illinois placed three in the tournament's top-five. Junior Megan Godfrey leads the Illini with a 77.58 stroke average on the year and three top-five finishes. The Spring Classic champion, Kristine Cook, has been a force for Illinois during her freshman campaign. With a stroke average of 79.46, she has tied Godfrey for the low round of the season at 71 shots. Cook has been able to record two top-10 spots this season. The team's lone senior, Lyndsey Milligan, has contributed greatly as well. Averaging 80 shots per round, Milligan has put together two top-15 finishes this year.
No. 122 Indiana will enter the Big Ten Championships as one of the youngest teams in the field. With four freshmen on the seven person roster, juniors Molly Redfearn and Katie Carlson and senior Bethany Brunner will be counted on heavily for their championship experience. Redfearn leads the team with a stroke average of 80.42. Her season was highlighted by her second-place finish at the Mary Fossum Invitational in September. The squad's sole senior, Brunner follows right behind Redfearn with an average of 80.88 shots per round. Elaine Harris leads the way for the Hoosier freshmen contingent. Shooting at an 81.32 stroke per round clip, Harris' highest finish was a 15th place showing in her penultimate tournament of the regular season.
The No. 95 Iowa Hawkeyes enter the conference-championship tournament led by senior Liz Bennett. Having earned five top-five finishes thus far, Bennett has recorded a scoring average of 76.6 to lead the team. Bennett has earned two tournament victories this season. Sophomore Amy Riepma returns to the U-M Golf Course in Ann Arbor as the highest placing Hawkeye from last fall's Lady Northern. With a season average of 79.8, Riepma has recorded three top-10 finishes through the regular season. Also contributing significantly for the Hawks has been freshman Jill Marcum. With a stroke average of just over 80, Marcum has earned five top-30 finishes this season.
The 26th ranked Michigan Wolverines will play host for the 2005 Big Ten Women's Golf Championship and will use their home-course advantage in an effort to win their first conference championship. At the Lady Northern Invitational in the fall, the Wolverines placed three golfers in the top-10, led by senior Lauren Olin, a two-time Big Ten Golfer of the Week this season. No. 89 Olin has earned five top-five finishes this year, including a tournament victory at the East/West Rio Verde Invitational in Arizona. Olin tied for third at the Lady Northern by shooting a 1-over, 145. Sophomore Brianna Broderick has also contributed significantly for the Wolverines this year, earning six straight top-10 finishes to open the campaign. Broderick tied teammate Ali Stinson and Ohio State's Lindsay Knowlton for seventh at the Lady Northern. Stinson has also been valuable this year for U-M, earning six top-20 finishes.
The Michigan State Spartans enter the Big Ten Championships ranked 39th in the nation and coming off an impressive upset victory of the host Ohio State squad at the Lady Buckeye Invitational, the regular season's final event for both teams. Sophomore Rachel Meikle led the Spartans in Columbus, finishing second. The story of the Spartan season has been their team's consistency, despite not having a single senior on the roster. While the top-10 finishes have been more rare for MSU than for most top-teams, the steady production throughout their entire roster has kept them in the hunt at every tournament. Led by Meikle (76.9), the team has five athletes averaging fewer than 78 strokes per round. Sophomore Mandi McConnell checks in with an average of 77.15 shots and freshman Sara Brown has averaged 77.52 strokes each time out during her first year in East Lansing, followed by junior Dayna Burleigh (77.75) and sophomore Heather Rose (77.85). In the fall, on the U-M course, the Spartans finished fourth at the Lady Northern.
The No. 90 Minnesota Golden Gophers will enter the 2005 Big Ten Women's Golf Championship led by the 222nd ranked Terra Petsinger. Her 77 shot per round average is tops on the team and she has three top-10 finishes on the season, including a successful title defense at the Minnesota Invitational in September. Since the spring section of the season began, Petsinger has not finished outside of the top-20. Her lowest finish was an 18th place performance at the Lady Boilermaker Invitational. Sophomore Samantha Braschler will look to capitalize on a 73-shot effort in the final round of the Boilermaker on the regular season's final weekend. Also, Junior Sarah Butler, who broke her ankle during the winter off-season, will return to competition for only the second time since the injury.
The No. 43 Northwestern Wildcats come into the Big Ten Championships with three straight top-six finishes, including a team victory at the Mountain View Collegiate tournament in Tucson, Arizona. Paced by the No. 112 and 146 players in the country, Alice Kim and Ina Kim (no relation) respectively, the Cats have finished in the top-11 of every tournament of their season. Sophomore Alice Kim leads the Wildcats with a scoring average of 75.48 strokes, and with an average of 76, senior Ina Kim has posted four top-ten performances this season. Adding to the Northwestern cause has been freshmen Brittany Johnston and Katie Trachok, and sophomore Heather Scholten. The depth of the Wildcat team will be important in their chase for the championship. Five of Northwestern's six regular competitors have earned at least one top-20 finish this season.
The No. 10 Buckeyes are coming off a victory on their home course in 2004 that earned the school its third straight Big Ten Championship. The Scarlet and Gray are led by the nation's 11th ranked golfer, senior Kristen White, who finished third a year ago. The first of a highly ranked trio of Buckeyes, White boasts a 73.5 stroke average on the season and has earned three top-five finishes this year. Classmate Lindsay Knowlton also has had a banner year in her final collegiate season. Shooting at a 74.0 shot clip, Knowlton is coming off her first tournament victory of her career at the Lady Buckeye Invitational on the last weekend of the regular season. Knowlton, the 19th rated player in the country, has also finished in the top-five three times this season. Both White and Knowlton share the team's low-round of the year at 67. Other Buckeyes that will contribute come championship time are sophomore Dana Je and junior Jennifer Selfinger. At the Lady Northern, both Knowlton (T5) and White (T7) posted top-10 finishes.
The 99th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions enters the 2005 Big Ten Women's Golf Championships led by junior Amber Weinerth. The 210th ranked player nationally, Weinerth led the way for the Nittany Lions in September's Lady Northern Invitational held at the U-M Golf Course, the site of the conference championships. Weinerth comes into the conference event having paced the Lions at the regular season's final tournament in Columbus, Ohio, shooting 229 over the three-round event. Since finishing 48th and 54th at the Lady Northern respectively, sophomore Maggie Lester and senior Lauren Lundy contributed significantly for Penn State throughout the remainder of the season.
The No. 34 Purdue Boilermakers return to Ann Arbor after finishing fifth in September's Lady Northern Invitational. The Boilers were paced by a strong second-place showing from sophomore Myrte Eikenaar. The 39th ranked player in the country, Eikenaar has been the team's top-performer from start to finish, rattling off five top-five performances, including a first place finish at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Florida. She leads the team with a 75.3 stroke average heading into the conference championship. Purdue has also been aided by junior Onnarin Sattayabanphot, with four top-15 finishes on the season, shooting at an average of 76.5 strokes per round. Sattayabanphot is currently ranked 94th nationally. The play of freshman Whitney Frykman has also made a huge impact for Purdue. She has notched four top-30 finishes and is shooting at 77-stroke average.
The Wisconsin Badgers travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan as the 81st ranked team nationally. The squad is led by three players tightly bunched in the national rankings. Redshirt junior Jackie Obermueller is the highest ranked Badger at 351. Obermueller competed in only one of Wisconsin's fall tournaments, but came ready to play in the spring. She shot a career single-round low of 73 at the Wisconsin-Minnesota Cup match-play competition and was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week for her efforts. Junior Lindsay McMillan has been one of the Badger's most consistent athletes this season, recording five top-25 finishes, including twice finishing tournaments in sixth place, including one at the Mo'Morial Invitational, which garnered her a Golfer of the Week selection. Freshman Katie Elliott has also contributed extensively in her first season in Madison. With four top-30 finishes this season, she will be counted on during the championships' four rounds.
Follow all of the championship action, beginning at 8:00am ET on Friday on ww.BigTen.org.