The weather in Madison may be freezing, but there?s nothing
but sunshine ahead for the UW women?s golf team, as they migrate to the
tropical weather of the Caribbean for the Lady Puerto Rico Classic this
In a field of 18 teams, six are in the top 25, and 14 are in
the top 50 of the national rankings. With such a big tournament this early in
the spring season, the Badgers have an opportunity to see where they stand in a
tournament of strong competitors and make their mark on a national level.
Coming off a solid win against Indiana two weeks ago in
Arizona (10-8), the Badgers look to continue their strong start to the spring
season. Consistency was key in their last win as each of the six players shot
in the low to mid 70s. For this trip, only five players are allowed to compete:
Katie Elliot, Jeana Dahl, Natasha Lopez, Kelsey Verbeten, and Carly Werwie will
each take their shot against the competition.
According to head coach Todd Oehrlein, ball striking, greens
in regulation, and most importantly, putting are skills to improve upon this
weekend. Heading to Puerto Rico also raises climate issues that the team will
have to play through.
?Probably the biggest thing I would say that we have to be
prepared for is, it tends to get pretty windy,? Oehrlein said. ?From a
preparation standpoint, we just have to make sure we control our ball flight
and maybe try to keep our trajectory a little bit lower.?
As for team goals, the Badgers want to make advancements in
their rankings as the bigger tournaments ? such as the Big Ten and NCAA
Tournaments ? loom in the coming months. Although it?s early in the season, the
Badgers hope to use this tournament as a jumpstart to their future success.
?Really, it?s about trying to make sure we get some wins
against some teams,? Oehrlein said. ?We?d like to pick up ground in stroke
differential, in our scoring, based on our season averages and things. And
that?s going to move us forward in the rankings and put us in a better position
as we move forward for regional considerations.?
With two weeks to prepare and nothing but snow and frigid
temperatures at home, the women?s golf team has been forced to practice
indoors. Despite the less-than-perfect conditions for training, the team
practices harder than ever and is able to transfer the many facets of the game
from fake grass mats to real grass outdoors.
?We have this putting surface inside [the Kohl Center].?
Dahl said. ?We have been working a lot on our short game and wedges in the
McClain Center and [have been] doing the full swing stuff at Vitnese [golfing
The conditions for practicing in Madison could pose a
handicap, as other teams in the tournament like Tennessee or Georgia have great
weather all year round. However, with the many indoor options available in
Madison, Oehrlein feels the team will have no problem in making the transition.
A vital aspect to a Badger win this weekend is the practice
round, which the team gets before tournament play begins.
?It?s critical.? Oehrlein said. ?You get a chance to see the
golf course and pay attention where you want to leave it around the greens and
what gives you the best chance from a scoring perspective too. And then it also
is just really important for us to just get back outside again.?
Beyond fine tuning skills and making the move from turf to
grass, the long breaks between tournaments ? in this case, two weeks ? is
another challenge the team must deal with. But with a team composed of sound
leaders, such as senior Elliot and junior Dahl ? who scored a team low 72 to
lead Wisconsin to victory in their last match against Indiana ? the Badgers are
poised to make their mark, despite having been dormant all winter long.
?It?s going to be a challenging field.?There are going to be great teams
there,? Dahl said. ?So hopefully we can just take what we?ve been working on
all winter long in the offseason and bring it out to the course. ? Right now
we?re just anxious to play.?