2005: College Women - Boilermakers beaming after fall success
Purdue coach Devon Brouse is a perfect example of how success can make people say the strangest things.
“I’m tickled with the way they’ve played this fall,” Brouse said, “and I don’t ever remember myself using that adjective before.”
Brouse has every reason to be delighted, even if his choice of words was a little out of character for a man who has been a college coach since 1978, six years before anyone on his team was born. But people often say the unexpected when the unexpected happens and, in this case, something special is brewing in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Boilermakers easily were the top women’s college golf story during the fall season.
Purdue ended last season ranked 31st in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, and this year arrived on the scene with freshmen Christel Boeljon and Maria Hernandez – 2005 Women’s British Amateur semifinalists from the Netherlands and Spain, respectively.
Simple logic would say the Boilermakers would improve slightly this season because of added depth that would provide more comfort to veterans Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Myrte Eikenaar and Whitney Frykman. The results, however, have been mind-boggling.
Purdue won three of its four events and finished second in the other by three shots to Georgia. In addition, the Boilermakers also won the Hooters Match Play Championship, an unofficial event that closed the semester last month near Orlando, Fla.
“I’m not surprised,” said Eikenaar, a junior. “I know what kind of players we have here.”
Said Sattayabanphot, the team’s only senior: “I knew we were going to be good this year. I knew we would play well.”
Still, each member of the team has to be a touch astounded at how well they’ve played so soon. Purdue ended the fall ranked No. 3, and all five players – hailing from four different countries (United States, Thailand, Spain and the Netherlands) – are ranked inside the top 100, including four in the top 40. Sattayabanphot is ranked 13th, Boeljon is 24th, Eikenaar is No. 34, Hernandez is No. 36 and Frykman, a sophomore, is No. 82. Sattayabanphot, Boeljon and Hernandez each collected individual titles this fall.
The team ranking is significant for numerous reasons. Purdue hasn’t finished a season ranked higher than 17th the past six years, despite being one of only six schools to qualify for the NCAA Championship every year during that span. (The Boilermakers were 20th at the 2005 NCAA Championship at Sunriver, Ore.) The ranking virtually guarantees Purdue a spot at the NCAA Regionals and should portend another likely trip to the NCAA Championship, which will be held at Big Ten rival Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.
Brouse says this is the best team he has had since returning to his alma mater eight years ago from North Carolina. Although it’s early, Purdue has all the pieces in place to finally challenge for a national title, something a northern school has never achieved, dating to the the first AIAW national tournament – the NCAA’s predecessor – in 1973.
“It’s one thing to play great golf, it’s another to play great golf when it matters most,” Brouse said. “That’s the challenge ahead of us, carry this into the spring and see what we can do. We know we have a ways to go to compete with the best in the country. We haven’t seen Duke yet, we haven’t played Pepperdine.
“There is a lot of room for improvement. I don’t think I’m going to be satisfied if we don’t get better.”
If they do, just imagine what adjectives Brouse might use then.