24 Hawkeyes to Watch begins with women's golf

Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, Aug. 2, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2007-08 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.

Aug. 2, 2007

IOWA CITY – – For the past three seasons the University of Iowa women’s golf program has enjoyed one constant for all 93 rounds it competed in — senior Jill Marcum.

Marcum, named Most Valuable Team Member as a sophomore, is prepping for her final season, and if past history is any indication, it should be the best yet for the Clarinda native.

“Jill is a grinder,” Iowa Coach Kelly Crawford said. “If you watch, she doesn’t have a typical golf swing, but she is so athletic that she is able to score well and consistently.”

Athleticism and consistency are a must to play 93 consecutive rounds at the Division I level. As a freshman (2004-05), Marcum played 30 rounds for the Hawkeyes, finishing third on the team with an average of 80.2 strokes per 18 holes. Her rookie season as a collegian was highlighted by a hole-in-one at the Lady Razorback Invitational. As a sophomore, Marcum was second on the team with a 77.8 average. She again played 30 rounds and collected three top 10 individual finishes. The Hawkeyes placed eighth in the 11-team Big Ten Championship, shooting a school-record 1,223 for 72 holes (305.8 per round). Last season Marcum fired a career-low 18-hole score of 70 during the third round of the UNLV Spring Invitational on March 14 in Las Vegas, Nev. She was tops on the Iowa season scoring chart with a 77.5 stroke average. Marcum shot a third-round score of 73 at the Big Ten Championship and eventually shared 44th in the league with a 322.

“My goal has always been to leave the golf program in a better place than when I came,” Marcum said. “It’s enjoyable for me to see how much our team improves from the beginning of every season until the end.”

“My goal has always been to leave the golf program in a better place than when I came.”

The Iowa women’s golf team became more competitive in Crawford’s first season as coach. The Hawks posted the top three 18 and 36-hole rounds in school history, as well as the top two 54-hole scores. Iowa shot 891 (over three rounds) at the Pelican Preserve Invitational on Oct. 16-17 in Fort Myers, Fla., and carded 893 at the UNLV Spring Invitational on March 12-14. Six of eight starters return from a team that placed in the top 10 of all five fall tournaments and in three of five spring tournaments last season.

Marcum picked up golf clubs for the first time at age four and eventually became a high school four-time Hawkeye-10 Conference golf medalist and had three top three finishes at the Iowa State Tournament — champion as a senior, third as a junior and runner-up as a sophomore. She qualified for the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship after tying for first at a U.S. Regional Qualifier.

“Jill is such a great person and a lot of fun to have on the team,” Crawford said. “She is always smiling and very well-respected by her peers.”

One key to Marcum’s consistency is as simple as mind over matter. The economics major is well-known for keeping an even keel mentally, even during trying times.

The University of Iowa opens the women’s golf season Sept. 8-9 at the Mary Fossum Invitational in East Lansing, Mich.

“I don’t get too emotional on the course,” Marcum said. “I can let a bad hole go and by being calm that helps me get through rounds.”

Marcum is the lone Iowa native returning to the 2007-08 Hawkeye squad, but two of the state’s finest recruits will join her in the fall. Laura Cilek, the Iowa Class 4A state medalist from Iowa City West and Amanda Stahl, the Class 4A runner-up from Linn-Mar, are incoming freshmen.

“We want to move the program in a more forward direction,” Crawford said. “I feel very confident that we can finish in the top three or four in the conference.”

With that ascent up the Big Ten standings, Marcum’s wish of leaving the program in a better place will no longer be just a goal, but reality.