Women’s golf looks to build off strong fall seasonBy Ben Boynton | 02/09/2017 12:01am
Junior Lakareber Abe follows through at the SEC Championship. Photo courtesy of UA Athletics.
After winning its opening tournament of the fall season in record-setting fashion and taking second place in two of the other three tournaments it played in, the Alabama women’s golf team had plenty of things to be pleased with, including but not limited to a No. 3 finish in the Golfstat statistical rankings.
Coach Mic Potter would rather focus on something else though.
“We have a lot of depth,” Potter said. “Mia Landegren and Cammie Gray, our two seniors. Them and [junior] Nicole Morales are very good players and they’re essentially fighting for one spot. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we came out of the winter and seeing what we can do in California.”
The Crimson Tide had three players ranked in the top 10 by Golfstat at the end of the fall season. Sophomore Cheyenne Knight set a school record with a 14-under-par tournament performance, and was ranked No. 5 at the end of the slate. Sophomore Lauren Stephenson found herself No. 9, and junior Lakareber Abe ended the fall ranked No. 10 individually by Golfstat and set a school record with a 9-under-par performance in final round of the Mason Rudolph Challenge on Sept. 18.
“You just look back at how you did in the fall and try to improve on those things,” Abe said. “The spring is kind of like a whole new year. Just because we played well last fall doesn’t mean that just because we show up in the spring everything will fall into place."
The team will get its first opportunity to see where its at with the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes Estates in California, hosted by Ohio State. With 105 days between the upcoming tournament, the team hasn’t competed as a team in a long time. That doesn’t mean the players haven’t touched a course for that whole time.
“We still practice [during break] but it’s not as hard and not as intense,” Abe said. “You definitely take a break but we’ve been playing and competing since we got back. There is a break but not really; not like this huge ‘don’t do anything and stop.’”
One of the benefits of the long break between the fall and spring seasons is that it provides the golfers a long stretch of time to focus on things they can’t during the season.
“Rest is essential in improving and being refreshed and ready to play in the spring,” Potter said. “We give them a lot of time off, we do a little more heavy conditioning than we do in season, and it gives us a chance to maybe work on some mechanical things that you’d rather they weren’t working on during the competitive season.”
The freshmen on the team also now have a whole semester under their belts. Potter is excited about the growth of his newcomers, especially freshman Kristen Gillman, who finished the fall ranked No. 29 by Golfstat.
“Kristen Gillman is a United States Amateur champion, so expectations were high and she played well this fall,” Potter said. “Transitioning from high school to college and being away from home is always difficult so I really look for her to play better in the spring than she did in the fall. She’s settled in and gotten more comfortable.”
Potter said the team doesn’t have a specific goal set outside of playing the best golf they can. The Crimson Tide has made the NCAA Championship and finished in the top 15 for nine straight years- it even won the program’s only national championship in 2012. Golfstat has the team ranked No. 3 to open the season, but the players are only focused on getting better right now.
“Our coach is just very big on when we get to a tournament, we just need to focus on ourselves, what we need to do, and playing our best and everything else should work its way out,” Abe said.