Women’s golf team set to tee off a new season

Kevin Connell

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The Alabama women’s golf team will compete in its first tournament of the season this Sunday at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

The three-day tournament set for Feb. 10-12 at the Rio Mar Beach Resort will feature a field of 15 schools. Along with Alabama, the competing schools include Arkansas, Auburn, Indiana, Iowa State, Kent State, Kentucky, Michigan, N.C. State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Southern Methodist, TCU and Texas Tech.

For head coach Mic Potter, it never matters who they will be facing. He said his job is always to worry about only the things that his team can control and let the winning come on its own.

“There are 350 teams out there [nationally] who want to win and talk about it all the time,” Potter said. “The question is what do we do to make it happen. And that’s what we’re concerned about, especially our first tournament after our winter break.”

It is evident that this message from Potter has been driven into the minds of his players as they too aren’t necessarily worried about winning.

“I mean obviously we go to every tournament hoping to win; that’s our goal,” senior Jennifer Kirby said. “But I think individually, everyone probably has their own goals on what they’d like to get out of the tournament. For me, definitely just get the rust off. I haven’t played a tournament since October.”

The Crimson Tide last played in the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in 2011, finishing in first place as a team, Potter said.

Kirby and juniors Stephanie Meadow and Hannah Collier are the only current players on the roster to have played in the tournament that year. Individually, Kirby finished tied for ninth, while Meadow placed first.

“It’s a good course; it sits us pretty well, and it’s pretty wide open. It’s definitely a scoring course,” Meadow said. “It’s a good starter tournament. You can go out there and shoot some good scores, get the confidence up and get ready for the rest of the season.”

There is no denying Kirby and Meadow are the two stalwarts that will help carry this year’s team. Both are established players with plenty of experience and success who, based off previous history alone at this upcoming tournament, are set to have top-10 finishes individually.

With their results looking promising, it will be interesting to see who will have a breakout performance out of the Tide’s other three starters. Many upperclassmen teammates said that player is freshman Emma Talley.

“She brings a lot to the team, so I’m really excited about what she’s going to be able to bring for us this spring,” Meadow said. “She had a great fall. Your freshman fall season is always the hardest, so for her to come out like that is pretty impressive.”

Although Talley’s fall season was a bit difficult for her at times, she has stepped up well in her place in the lineup, Kirby said. In the Tide’s three fall tournaments, Talley finished tied for 14th, tied for 16th and tied for 27th.

The key to success for Talley and all the Tide golfers in this tournament will come down to one thing in particular: putting.

“I think always we need to putt better. And that’s not saying we’re bad putters, but we do drive the ball and hit the ball as well or better than about any team in America,” Potter said. “Our performance is going to be dictated largely by how well we putt and whether that’s getting the ball up and down on a miss green to save momentum or capitalizing on birdie opportunities. Our ability to make putts is going to determine our success.”

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