BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Following a highly successful fall season, the WKU Women’s Golf team returns to the course this spring at the Samford Spring Shootout.
The Lady Toppers will be one of six teams competing Monday at the par-72, 5,893-yard Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Ala. UAB, Auburn and Alabama will have individuals competing.
“This is a late addition to the schedule this spring,” WKU coach Adam Gary said. “We weren’t supposed to start until March, but we had this opportunity to start in February so I thought it was a good way to break up the month of February. We’ve been very fortunate with the weather, we’ve been able to be outside and practice. I know the girls are really excited to get out.”
The Samford Spring Shootout is a one-day event featuring 36 holes of play. The tournament is slated for an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start Monday.
The other teams competing are Alabama State, Dalton State, South Alabama, Jacksonville State and Samford.
WKU will have all nine of its golfers in action. The five competing as a team will be juniors Emily Alexander, Georgina Blackman and Katie Story, and freshmen Mary Joiner and Abigail Smee.
“We are really excited actually because it’s the first time we’re going as a whole team, so that will be good fun,” Blackman said. “But we’ve been working a lot on sort of just putting and getting our swings, making sure they’re ready for the tournament because it’s a 36-hole day, so obviously we want to be prepared for that. We’ve all been practicing really hard, especially over Christmas break and stuff, so it’s been good.”
The Lady Toppers put together three top-five finishes as a team in the fall, including a victory in the Drake Creek Invitational to start the season and a tie for second at the Pat Bradley Invitational.
Joiner registered two wins in five tries to start her college career, claiming the Drake Creek title in her first event and finishing the fall with a victory in the Idle Hour Collegiate Championship. She was named Conference USA Golfer of the Week after each of those winning performances.
Joiner had eight birdies in her final round at Idle Hour. Her 66 was the lowest individual score by a Lady Topper in several years and bested her previous personal low by three strokes.
“Carrying over some of the momentum from last fall, Mary played well and won the last tournament that we played in in the fall,” Gary said. “Qualifying has been going well so far, Emily Alexander with the low in qualifying for us so far. So, I’m going to be able to take the whole team to Samford, so it’s going to be a great start to get everyone some playing time.”
Gary said he hopes that the depth of his team and the competition that produces will help the players “push each other, to rise to a new level.”
The coach also mentioned Blackman, who finished in the top 25 in every tournament in the fall, as one Lady Topper who’s close to breaking through.
“I feel like I’m almost there, but for me it’s just consistency and making sure I sort of have three good rounds,” Blackman said.
WKU has five tournaments this spring before it heads into the Conference USA Championship, which takes place April 17-19 at the Veranda Golf Club in Fort Myers, Fla.
“I tried to schedule as many tournaments down south as possible,” Gary said. “We are going to be on Bermuda greens in Alabama this week, in the first weeks of March we’re going to be in Jacksonville. We are hosting our tournament for the first time in Tampa and then we’re driving over to Orlando and playing, so we kind of fit two into our spring break before conference is down in Fort Myers again this year. So, we’re going to be in Florida on similar grasses, similar conditions and I think that can only help us going into conference.”
How to follow the Lady Toppers: For complete information on WKU Lady Topper Golf, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUWomensGolf.