Preview: Women’s golf heads to Florida for C-USA championships

Preview: Women’s golf heads to Florida for C-USA championships

Preview: Women’s golf heads to Florida for C-USA championships
April 15
21:20 2018

As the North Texas women’s golf season comes to a close, there is one event left on the schedule — the Conference USA championships at Fort Myers, Florida Monday through Wednesday in the coming week.

With all 11 teams from the conference there, North Texas looks to improve on their placing from last season where they finished 10th. The returning champions are Old Dominion, who returns as the favorite this year. Another prominent school is the University of Texas at San Antonio, who placed third last year.

This is the same UTSA team the Mean Green beat in the Bruzzy Challenge just two weeks ago.

“The UTSA deal is just a confidence builder, [since] we beat them by a number of shots,” head coach Michael Akers said. “Old Dominion is the best ranked team in the conference, and they’re defending champions, but along with that it puts a lot of pressure on the team.”

Even though the competition is tough, the team’s confidence remains upbeat since they learned from last season’s outing at the same course.

The hope is obviously to top last year’s performance, but in order to do so, the team has taken to their home golf course in Carrollton, Texas to simulate the course in Florida, adjusting the course and trying out new things to get better at practice.

“We know the golf course, so we are working on yardages that we’re going to see down there,” Akers said. “We’re trying to simulate the green speed that we’re going to see and working a lot on sand. There’s quite a bit of sand down there, so we’re doing the best we can to simulate the conditions that we’re going to see.”

Factors such as unpredictable weather and course difficulty have made the team more adaptive of any circumstance. The team has built resilience in the face of hardship, which makes their success more satisfying and prepares them for any condition.

“We played in a lot of tournaments, and there’s never been a tournament this [season] that has been a normal tournament,” junior Sol Lee said. “There’s always unexpected things. I feel like all those tournaments, and all those hardships, have really prepared me for this final tournament.”

Keeping the team motivated is their belief that they can pull off a championship level performance, leading to a successful season.

“I really think there are some teams that can really win, including us,” Akers said.

Although the ultimate goal is to win it all, Akers still stresses the importance of the bigger picture of the team’s improvement, both individually and as whole. As always, he looks for consistency, making his advice to the girls simple.

“[I want them to] manage mistakes, minimize bogeys, play confident and play smart, along with a lot of positive reinforcement,” Akers said. “It’s real nice when the team is encouraging each other even though golf is an individual sport. It’s all about peaking at the right time, so the last few tournaments we’ve done really well in the final round, but we want to talk about that and build on that and try to have three solid rounds and get in good position.”

North Texas prepared all season leading up to this tournament and have been able to do so by playing a competitive schedule. For instance, their past two tournaments have hosted multiple top 50 teams in the country and resulted in lower finishes as a team, but not lower scores or confidence.

“We played against very difficult competition all year, and I do that on purpose,” Akers said. “I want a really difficult schedule because by the time we get to conference it feels a lot easier.”

These experiences encouraged the team to have confidence in themselves and to trust their game. Their view of their potential is built on previous accomplishments in earlier tournaments.

“From what I saw in the last tournament, I feel like my game is starting to come together,” Lee said. “So I’m really excited to play, and I feel really confident about how I’m going to do.”

The team looks forward to playing at the Conference USA Championship next week because it is what they have prepared for since the first tournament. None of the other results matter to them.

Now, they head to Florida ready to prove themselves among the conference’s elite.

“I feel good,” Akers said. “We’re just really excited to get down there.”

Featured image: Mean Green women’s Golf at Maridoe Country Club in Carrollton on August 26, 2017 in Carrollton, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)

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Simreen Kheraj

Simreen Kheraj

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