Women's Golf Team to Open Season Monday
Sept. 14, 2007
Contact: Evan Elliott
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The defending Conference USA champion Lady Tiger golf team will begin the fall season Monday at the University of Louisville's Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup. Coach Jenny Bruun's roster is five strong to begin the fall tournament schedule. The Memphis roster features two seniors, one junior, a sophomore and a freshman. Two of the top performers from last season return in Senior Dawn-Marie Conaty and Junior Rachel Larson.
Larson led all returning golfers with six top-20 finishes last season. She opened the fall by earning a tie for 19th at the Badger Women's Golf Invitational in Madison, Wisc., which she followed with a top-5 performance two weeks later to help the Lady Tigers win Kentucky's Wildcat Fall Invitational. She turned in another top-20 weekend before opening the spring season with a tie for 7th at the Baja Invitational in Ensenada, Mexico. Larson recorded her final two top-20 rounds in the last tournaments of the regular season, which included a 231 (80-74-77) at the C-USA Championships, good enough for 13th place.
"(Larson) definitely has her best golf ahead of her," said Bruun. "She is extremely gifted, and over the past two years her game has gotten so much more consistent. Rach has so much more control of her shots which allows her to be more aggressive when the time is right."
Conaty turned in three top-20 performances during the 2006-07 campaign. Her first two were during the fall. She opened the year with a tie for 15th at the Badger Women's Golf Invitational, four spots ahead of Larson. Then she finished third at the Lady Jaguar Invitational in Augusta, Ga. Conaty saved her final top-20 weekend for the conference championships in Birmingham, where she shot a 235 (80-76-79) to earn the Lady Tigers their third spot in the top-20 at 16th.
"Dawn-Marie is a fierce competitor and she truly loves the game of golf," Bruun said of Conaty. "She is an extremely efficient in her practice sessions which carries over into our tournaments. She expects a lot of herself and that inner drive is so much fun to watch."
Senior Meghan Mahoney will return to the team after missing last year with a back injury. She will round out the trio of experienced collegiate golfers Bruun will take across the Southeast in preparation for the spring season.
"(Mahoney) has put a ton of time into her game over the past six months. Her college career has been challenged continuously as she as had to fight with a back injury, but...I have no doubt that Meg will have her best year as a Tiger (this year)," said Bruun.
With only five golfers on the team, Bruun will rely heavily on the leadership of her upperclassmen.
"I can't say enough positive things about these veterans and just how important they are to this team," she said. "Their positive attitudes, determination and leadership were a huge reason we were able to accomplish what we did last season."
The Lady Tigers will add two new faces to the roster in sophomore transfer Taylor Bunnell and freshman Alexa Porter. Bunnell is a Germantown, Tenn., native who returns to Memphis after spending her freshman year at the University of Alabama.
"By midseason I can see Taylor consistently finishing in the top-20 every week," said Bruun. "She is a good ball striker, and her ability to keep the ball in play is a big strength."
Porter is a native of Elyria, Ohio, and was a four-sport athlete in high school. She earned MVP honors at her conference championship in 2005.
"Alexa brings that blue collar attitude with her from Cleveland," Bruun said. "She is a tireless worker on the golf course and has a very bright future ahead of her."
The Tigers will play five tournaments this fall in preparation for the spring schedule. They will tee off the fall with two tournaments in Kentucky, hosted by the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky. Memphis won the Lady Kat Invitational last fall. The team then hits the road and plays in Missouri, South Carolina and Florida to finish the fall.
The spring season begins with two tournaments in North Carolina before the Lady Tigers head to Honolulu, Hawaii, to face some of the nation's top teams in paradise.
"I think the Hawaii tournament is a part of the year (the team is) looking forward to," said Bruun. "We will get the opportunity to see some teams we haven't seen much of in the past, which will be great when we head into our post season play in April.
Bruun is optimistic about what prospects the he postseason holds for her team. With only five on the roster, everyone will have to contribute for the Lady Tigers to be successful.
"We have five players this year who all have the talent to win a collegiate golf tournament," said Bruun, "and this is the first time in my coaching career that I have been able to say that."