By TRISHA BARKER
The BYU women’s golf team is back in full swing after a two-month break from the fall season.
The team will open its spring season on Feb. 16-17 in Malibu, Calif. at the Pepperdine Wave Invitational.
Women’s golf coach Gary Howard said 18 teams will attend the tournament, and six or seven will be competitive with BYU.
“Some will be a little better than us and some a little behind us,” Howard said. “But this is the way we want to be tested.”
Six of the eight golfers will travel to California. Five will represent BYU and one will play individually.
Senior Jamie Stevenson said the 36-hole tournament in Malibu will show the golfers what they need to work on.
“I just want to go out and work on my confidence and on getting back into the game,” Stevenson said. “I think we have to remember how strong we finished in the fall, and this will help us in the beginning of this season.”
Stevenson said she loves golfing because it’s a sport that is continually challenging.
“You can never master it,” she said. “It’s almost self-torturing because there’s always so much room to improve.”
Stevenson led the golf team last year, along with Suzanna Gillemo and Catalina Navarro, who both graduated in 1998.
Howard said although this year’s team is young, its abilities are comparable with teams of the past.
“We’ve done quite well considering our youth,” Howard said. “We were only two strokes higher this past fall than we were last fall (in 1997). We may have gone down three or four ranks in the district, but that’s not because of us, it’s because those teams have improved.”
Howard said in the fall the players mainly focused on gaining experience, although the Cougars did have some impressive performances.
He said if the team can stay motivated, the women should play well this spring.
“It’s not fun to play your best in the fall, and then come back and lay an egg,” Howard said.
Sophomore Sunny Pendleton said the coaches have kept practices interesting this semester. As a result, the team is being prepared well for its tournaments.
“Our coaches are using drills and competitions in practice and that makes it exciting,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of chipping and putting drills.”
Pendleton said the golfers will not focus so much on winning this tournament, but on playing to the best of their abilities.
“We’d really like to be consistent,” she said. “We’ll focus on playing well. And if we get good enough scores, then maybe we will win.”
Howard said many of his goals for the team right now are long-term and will extend over the next few years.
“Our common goal, of course, is to get back to NCAA regionals and nationals,” he said. “For now we are trying to give every single player as much experience as we can.”