By GREG GIAUQUE
Coming off a sixth-place finish at its own BYU Invitational, the BYU women’s golf team left Tuesday for its second go-around on the links. The 54-hole Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., begins today and runs through Saturday.
The 17-team tournament, hosted by New Mexico, boasts a long list of preseason top 25 teams including Tulsa, Texas Christian University, Texas, UCLA and New Mexico State.
The course is the same one that the BYU men’s team played on last week in the William H. Tucker Invitational, in which it placed second. Women’s head coach Gary Howard said the strong field and the tough course layout will make for some solid competition. The course’s unusually large greens could present problems for the golfers, he said.
“This is a very good championship course, but it can be deceiving,” Howard said. “You have some 50-yard greens in New Mexico. Just because you reach the green doesn’t mean you hit a good shot.
Adrianne Gibby, a freshman from Scottsdale, Ariz., said she is simply looking to play a relaxed, yet solid game.
“I’m looking for three rounds in the 70s and to not think during the swing,” Gibby said. “I need to think more about tempo. I just want to give my best and do well on the par 5s … especially on the second shots.”
Howard said club selection and precise play on the par 3s and par 5s are particularly crucial.
“The par 3 play really hurt us at our own course,” Howard said. “Our players need to (average) about 3.1 (strokes). Last time we were at about 3.6. We play our par 4s OK. We also need to work on our par 5s. We averaged about 5.2 at Hobble Creek.”
Howard said a two-tenths improvement could drop more than 15 strokes from a team score and mean the difference between sixth and second place.
Before the season started, Howard said the younger players’ ability to step up would determine the team’s success or failure. Gibby and freshman Carrie Summerhays are joined at the tournament by fellow freshman Jessica Gardner and sophomore Summer Fenstermaker. Senior Jamie Stevenson anchors the team.
In all, six of eight golfers on the team are underclassmen and four are freshmen. Howard said this is unusual and they will make mistakes, but the players are eager to play and enthusiastic about what can happen.
Assistant coach and BYU alumnus Sue Nyhus said this will be another tournament where they are looking for a “steady eddy” to step up. With tongue in cheek, said she thinks the game plan is rather simple.
“It’s just a four-letter game,” Nyhus said. “Put-it-in-the-hole.”