Florida’s season-opening victory at the Cougar Classic was about sticking to the plan. Head coach Emily Bastel says that was the goal at the beginning of the final round on Sept. 11, and her players never wavered, even with a charging Duke gaining ground and fast.
In her head coaching debut, Bastel wanted to keep things simple.
“The girls did a really good job of sticking to our game plan the whole week, which is just to play our own games and keep it as simple as possible,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bastel hung to the par 3s and other holes she thought were key for scoring while assistant coach Janice Olivencia stuck to the No. 4 player. At the top of the lineup, sophomore Camilla Hedberg was putting together a 4-under 68 to follow her second-round 66. It left her safely ahead of Duke senior Lindy Duncan for medalist honors.
For Bastel, who took the Florida head coaching reigns over the summer and jokes that she might have the highest career winning percentage of any head coach in the country, this gig feels natural. She’s already been in Gainesville for a year, under former head coach Jan Dowling. It seems there was a short transition period for her players, too. Attribute some of that to solid seniors Isabelle Lendl and Mia Piccio, who have helped some of the underclassmen adjust.
Those players are leaders on the course, too. Lendl began the week with a first-round 67 and eventually finished fifth. Piccio was T-6. The Gator’s fourth score came from freshman Ursa Orehek. Still, the real star of the tournament was Hedberg, who won her first collegiate title in a loaded field. Bastel wasn’t surprised.
“She was a leader on the golf course for us last year for sure. I see that continuing,” Bastel said. “She’s very mature beyond her sophomore year.”
Sure, winning a season opener is a considerable leg up on the rest of the season, but Bastel is quick to point out that it doesn’t change the game plan one bit.
“Besides confidence building, I don’t think this will cause any major restructuring of goals or what we’re trying to accomplish,” she said.
The Gators should take confidence from this win. Aside from winning their own Gator Invitational for the past two years, it’s the first victory they’ve claimed since the 2010 Central District Invitational. Plus, there were seven of Golfweek’s preseason top 10 teams in the field. Florida checks in at No. 14.
It’s as good a start as Florida could have hoped for. Now it’s about keeping that ball rolling.
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Fabulous freshmen: A handful of newbies proved this week that they have acclimated well to college life, delivering top performances for their respective teams in the first major week of women’s college golf.
Chief among those is Duke’s Ashley Xiao, a freshman from China who came in under the radar on the Duke roster. In the final round of the Cougar Classic, Xiao matched reigning Player of the Year Lindy Duncan with a 68 that ultimately helped lead the Blue Devils to a final-round 7-under 281. They finished runner-up to Florida.
SMU’s Alexandra Rossi led the Mustangs to victory at the Chip-N Club Invitational, and rebounded from a second-round 9-over 81 with a final-round 68 to do it.
Arkansas freshman Gabriela Lopez was the low Razorback at the Old Waverly Intercollegiate, where Arkansas finished third.
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Five questions with Tulane sophomore Gemma Dryburgh of Aberdeen, Scotland, who won the first title of her career on Sept. 12 at the Old Waverly Intercollegiate. She led Tulane to a runner-up finish.
1.) You were consistenly low (69-70-69) the whole week. What was the key to that?
I think the key was just staying patient the whole week. I just needed to hit greens and I hit a lot of greens this week and that helped a lot. I’ve never hit that many greens before. I just stayed patient. I didn’t go for pins that I would usually go for, that I would usually mess up on. I just hit for the middle of the green. Coach (Andrew Pratt) has helped me with that a lot, just course management and everything.
2.) Do you feel extra pressure in the final round, when teammate Meghan Chapman withdrew and everyone knew they would have to count?
It was definitely. We needed to play well. We’ve got an experienced team so I felt like I needed to play well as well. With my experience from last semester, at UCF I came in tied for second so I just used the experience of being up there on the leaderboard from last year and just stayed patient, as I said before, and tried to stay calm.
3.) Thoughts on the course, Old Waverly?
The greens were amazing, one of the best courses we’ll probably play all year. I loved the setup and the greens were obviously amazing.
4.) Are you getting adjusted to life (and golf) in the U.S. now?
Yes, it’s definitely different but I’ve gotten more used to it. I’m probably more used to it now than back home actually, I’ve played here so much. It definitely suits me now.
(Which is harder, U.S. or links golf?)
Probably links golf. More wind.
5.) What’s your major and future plans?
My major is marketing, I’m in the business school. Hopefully I can turn pro out of college but if that doesn’t work, I’ll have my marketing degree and hopefully I can do something in the golfing industry.