Feb. 7, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. – The Northwestern women’s golf team tees off the 2013 Spring season Feb. 10-12 at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, P.R. Head coach Emily Fletcher took some time recently to chat about her team as the ’Cats gear up for their four regular-season spring tournaments before the 2013 Big Ten Championships, which take place April 26-28 in French Lick, Ind.
What are your thoughts on the team heading into the Spring?
“I feel good about our team. We have a lot of depth this year and our kids have tons of experience, even our freshman. We have three freshmen traveling with us to Puerto Rico. That speaks volumes to their experience and what they had coming into Northwestern. That’s certainly something that was appealing to us. We’ll have three freshmen, Kaitlin Park, Suchaya Tangkamolprasert and Elizabeth Szokol, going along with Lauren Weaver, our senior, Devon Brown, traveling as a junior, and then Hana Lee, as a sophomore. Hana and Kaitlin had very good fall seasons and we’re looking for Lauren and Devon to step up and help us.”
How is the schedule laid out to help you prepare for the Big Ten Championships in April?
“We did it a little bit different this year if you take a look back at our schedule. We spread it out a little bit differently. We go to Puerto Rice this week and then we’ll be home for three weeks before we go south to Florida to play our Alumni Match, with Luke Donald and the Gleacher family. Then we’ll go out to Arizona. We split it up a little bit this year just to try to see, from an academic standpoint, if it’s a little bit easier on our kids. Competitively, it will be good.
"At the Big Ten Championships, it is a 6 count 4 format, which is different from normal competition where you play five players and count your best four. We will play six players and are going to take individuals to all our events between now and Big Ten’s, with that in mind that we will be playing six players at Big Ten’s. So it’s really important for us that we get the six-player experience throughout the Winter and Spring. Potentially you could maybe play all Winter and Spring and not be in the lineup and then, boom, you play in the Big Ten Championships. So for us, it’s really important with our schedule to get individuals slid in there so they get that experience. Since we have the depth, I foresee our lineup sort of evolving and maybe changing a little bit, week-to-week and month-to-month.”
Any special message or motivation for Lauren Weaver going into her final Spring season?
“She’s struggled a little bit, as of late, and didn’t have the best Fall season. But the thing about Lauren is, and I keep telling her, “The one thing you are is a competitor.” She is so competitive and I feel like once the gun goes off and once we put the team on the ground, I think she’ll find a way to sort of count for us and sort of grind it out. She is excited. I can’t tell you the number of times she’s texted me or we’ve talked and she’s super excited about these last three of four months and being able to go out and accomplish great things.
“Northwestern women’s golf has never won a Big Ten Championship, so as a team we’re really looking to achieve that and that’s something Lauren would really like to do before she gets out of here. She’s led us well and has won numerous individual titles, but we haven’t been able to get that Big Ten title done.
“She’s decided not to pursue golf after college. She’s going to go to grad school for a year and then medical school, so for her, this is sort of the end of her competitive golf career. There’s always the pressure of thinking ‘Gosh, this is the end,’ but I think Lauren has been such a great addition and a great part of our program. We’ve been able to build our program the last four years. We need her to have a great Spring for us to be at our very best. We’ve got some great young talent but we need Lauren and Devon to solidify that for us.”
Fletcher on Devon Brown:
“Devon is working with a new instructor in California, Chris Mason, someone that we know well. We know what she’s working on, she’s made some changes. She kind of took the Fall to take what she’s been doing and take it on the golf course. We didn’t have huge expectations going into the Fall. We sort of knew this would evolve, be a little bit of a work in progress. I think she’s feeling more and more confident. Down in Florida last week she said to me, ‘I know where the ball’s going now, I just need to trust it.’
“My big thing for Devon is just get out of your own way and go play. Don’t be worried about what you’re not going to do, just go and play with some confidence, trust, and belief in what you’re doing. She’s such a talented player and her short-game, her putting, looks as good as I’ve ever seen it. We’ll look for her to really step up in the Spring.”
Fletcher on Hana Lee:
“Hana’s doing great. Looking at these last couple days in Florida, overall her game looked really good, didn’t make a ton of putts, but she’s just solid. Hana is a good iron player, a great driver of the golf ball, and if we can build on that momentum, she’s in a good place to play well.”
Fletcher on the Freshmen:
“Kaitlin had a good Fall and is still in the running for the Big Ten Freshmen of the Year so that would be a great accolade, a great accomplishment for her. She’s an extremely hard worker and she’s a tremendous player. She’s done a good job at settling into school and adjusting. She’s someone, as a freshman, that doesn’t look like a freshman out there on the golf course. She really stays in control and what I love about Kaitlin is, when she’s playing well, she’s not just trying to hurry up the hole, she’s trying to get as many under-par as she can. For instance, at Tennessee, she was one or two under, she’s not just looking to run out of holes and post a 69--she’s wants to go even lower. She’s very competitive that way. She’s done some work on her putting and Kaitlin’s a good ball-striker. If we get her to make a few more putts, she really has an opportunity to lead us this Spring.
“Suchaya has done some great work over the last couple of months. We took the advantage of being inside to really work on some things and fundamentals in her golf swing. She’s been very diligent. Getting outside this past weekend has been really important for us and for her to kind of just get her a little bit of confidence and trust in what she’s doing, taking it from practice to out there. She’s got a phenomenal short game and we look for her to step up in the Spring.
“Elizabeth’s been a bright spot for us this winter already. She’s was out for the Fall after she had knee surgery and didn’t play at all, but has worked incredibly hard over the last couple of months. We really saw some good stuff from her this past weekend, all striking, putting, everything. For her, she’ll take advantage of her getting to play as an individual, getting a little more competitive experience. That’s what Elizabeth needs. I think that she’s someone who could really step up and be a real contributor this Spring and certainly sophomore, junior, senior year. She can be a dominant player.”
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