Feb. 9, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's golf team begins its 2006 spring campaign Monday at the UC Riverside Lady Braveheart Classic. The two-day tournament, the first of six regular season events for the Broncos, will take place at the Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont.
Santa Clara enters spring play with three top-20 finishes already under its belt. In mid-October, the Broncos posted a 12th place finish at the Boise State Bronco Invitational behind solid first and second rounds. At the Kent Youel Invitational in Kapolei, Hawaii Santa Clara took 16th place in a tough field of opponents. The fall season was highlighted, however, by a second place finish at the Cal Poly Invitational in early November. Four Broncos posted top-25 finishes in the event to lead the team into the second-place slot.
"The second place finish at the Cal Poly Invitational was a confidence builder for the team. What we learned during the fall is that we've got to be mentally tougher. Rounds get away from us because we haven't shown the tenacity that we need to," explained head coach Polly Schulze. "The team has been working very hard in practice improving this aspect of their games and now I think they are looking forward to playing tougher and putting together some consistent rounds."
The Broncos are led by junior Megan Stoddart, a newcomer to the team this season. The transfer from the University of Hawaii captured the tournament title at the Boise State Bronco Invitational in October, her first event as a Bronco. Her under-par performance in the first round (70) was a season-low and helped her finish at the top of the 78-player field with a 218 three-round total. Stoddart's par second rounds at the Kent Youel Invitational and the Cal Poly Invitational helped her to 18th and 7th place finishes, respectively. Stoddart enters spring play leading the team with a 74.88 round average.
In addition to Stoddart, the Broncos are anchored by a group of strong returners, as eight golfers come back from last year's squad. The leading veterans include senior Candice Palmer, junior Samantha Trask and sophomore Corey Utsurogi, all who notched top-20 finishes at the Cal Poly Invitational to lead the team to its best finish so far this season. Palmer brings the most experience and leadership to the team as the only three-year letterwinner in the group. Trask, an All West Coast Conference honoree in 2005, has led the team in scoring average in each of the past two seasons. Utsurogi, a San Jose native, has already posted three top-25 finishes in her short career as a Bronco.
The Broncos' spring season will continue in late February when the team travels to Sedona, Ariz. to compete in the Northern Arizona Invitational. In early March, the Broncos will look to improve on their 2005 14th place finish at the Spartan Invitational, hosted by cross-town rival San Jose State. Santa Clara will then host the Colby Invitational, where the team has posted three consecutive top-five finishes. Last year, the Broncos picked up a third place finish in the event, one of the best finishes of the 2005 season. In early April, the Broncos will compete in the Peg Barnard Invitational hosted by Stanford University for the second year in a row. The regular season will conclude with the WCC Championships in mid-April at the Saddle Creek Golf Club in Copperopolis. Last year the Broncos finished third in the conference event, with all five players finishing in the top-25.
"The team is very hungry for a win and I feel that they are prepared to achieve that goal," said Schulze. "I am very much looking forward to taking the team on the road to see what they can do."