Sept. 12, 2011
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By KYLE SOLDWISCH
LINCOLN, Neb. — The University of Iowa women’s golf team opens its season today at the Chip-N Club Invitational. First-year head coach Megan Menzel leads a talented team that returns five letterwinners and welcomes a three-member recruiting class that includes two nationally-ranked players.
“I think the talent level is strong,” said Menzel. “I’m always a little weary of the word talent. I think it has to be backed up by hard work and making sure we’re dedicated to the team goals. I’m really seeing that. They’re all working really hard and bringing a lot of leadership.”
Headlining the returners is senior Chelsea Harris and junior Kristi Cardwell. The pair split the team lead for scoring average in 2010-11, posting a 77.1 average over 30 rounds. Harris and Cardwell also teamed during the summer to shoot a nine-under 279 and take fourth at the 2011 Hooters Women’s Collegiate Team Championships. Having players such as Harris and Cardwell return will make life easier on the Hawkeyes’ new head coach.
“It really builds a lot of confidence,” Menzel said. “I would go off of what they did this summer. Chelsea and Kristi really had a great performance at the Hooters Collegiate Team Championship. They’re coming in with a lot of good experience and confidence. “
Iowa also returns a third upperclassman in junior Gigi DiGrazia. The Addison, Ill., native was an academic all-Big Ten selection and was honored by the Big Ten as a Distinguished Scholar a season ago after maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average in integrative physiology. On the golf course, she competed in 19 rounds and set career-best 18-, 36- and 54-hole scores.
“She’s a great example all around,” said Menzel. “She’s works just as hard in golf as she does in school.”
The Hawkeyes roster also features a pair of sophomores, Woojay Choi and Karly Grouwinkel. Choi competed in 18 rounds and fired an 82 average during her freshman campaign. She posted a season low-round 76 at the Anteater Invitational. Grouwinkel played in one tournament as a freshman, recording a 246 (86-76-84) at the Hawkeye Invitational. Despite her lack of experience, Grouwinkel has already caught the eye of her head coach.
“I’ve been very excited about Karly,” Menzel said. “I think she has come in and is working hard. She seems eager to improve. We really need her to stay focused and make sure she is getting better each time she’s out here.”
Iowa added two nationally-ranked recruits to its roster in Lauren English and Shelby Phillips. English, a Bloomington, Ill., native, was considered the No. 1 player in Illinois and was ranked in the top 50 nationally throughout her senior season at University High School. Phillips was tabbed the No. 2 player in Arizona and 56th best prospect in the country after winning five of the nine high school events she entered in 2010 at Highland High School in Gilbert, Ariz.
“They’re in the line-up for this first tournament, and we expect them to come in and contribute right away,” Menzel said. “They bring in a ton of enthusiasm and competitiveness. They’re showing that their ready to get out there and compete.”
The Hawkeyes third freshman, St. Charles, Ill., native Nicole Rae, was a three-time all-conference selection and finished with the second-best scoring average in school history at East High School.
“Nicole is a great kid and a really hard worker,” Menzel said. “I think she’ll be a great contributor, a great student and will really bring a lot to our team.”
After the Chip-N Club Invitational, the Hawkeyes will play at the Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., before traveling to French Lick, Ind., to compete in the Lady Northern Invitational. Iowa will end its fall season Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational hosted in Austin, Texas.
“We want to see improvement,” said Menzel. “This team expects to go out and do some good things. Our goal has been to work hard and to make sure we’re doing things the right way every day that were out here on the golf course.”