Women’s Golf: Stepanek, Tribe get ready for upcoming CAA tournament

You won’t find senior Morgan Stepanek snapping golf clubs over her knee. Maybe she’ll split a golf tee here or there, but, for the most part, Stepanek avoids breaking things on the golf course.

Except for records. Those she has broken with some regularity over the course of her William and Mary career.

Stepanek, the first women’s golfer to break par in a round during tournament play at the College, led the Tribe for one last regular-season meet Tuesday at the Mimosa Hills Invitational in Morganton, N.C. She tied for fifth place with a 36-hole total of 149 (+5), helping the squad achieve a sixth-place finish with a team score of 618 (+42).

The College has finished in the top 10 in more than half of its tournaments this year, making this season one of the most consistent in recent memory. Heading into CAA tournament play, the Tribe already has two titles to its name this year — the Bucknell Invitational in September and the C&F Bank Intercollegiate at Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg two weeks ago.

“I think, like most golfers, we judge our season on wins, so we have to deem the season a success in my opinion,” Director of Golf Jay Albaugh said. “That being said, we still want to finish our season on a high note.”

Stepanek, whose 2009 season scoring average of 77 places her first all time in College history, said she is looking forward to her final CAA tournament.

“I definitely feel good,” Stepanek said. “We had the CAAs at the Homestead my freshman year. It’s an interesting golf course, so I definitely think having the experience and knowledge of the course prior to going in and playing it is definitely going to work on my side. It’s my last CAAs, so I feel no pressure. And it will be my last three rounds of collegiate golf, so I am just going to be focused on having fun.”

In addition to Stepanek, the College will need several of its key underclassmen — most notably sophomore Caroline Sweet and freshman Betsy Birchall — to post low scores in order to contend for a title.

Sweet earned back-to-back individual victories at the Bucknell Invitational and Great Smokies Intercollegiate earlier this year, making her the first Tribe golfer to win two tournaments in one season since 1991. She also earned the distinction of being one of just three Tribe women to break par in a round when she shot a one-under-par 69 in September.

Most recently, Sweet carded a 151 (+7) to finish in a tie for 10th place at the Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate.
“Caroline is only in her sophomore season, and when it is all said and done, I think she has the potential to be one of the best — if not the best — player to ever come through our program,” Albaugh said.

Like Sweet last year, Birchall has made large strides during her rookie season, and has become a key contributor to the College’s success. She posted the Tribe’s lowest score in two of the past three events, including a career-best fourth-place finish at the C&F Bank Intercollegiate.

“We have a great group of girls traveling — we all work together really well,” Stepanek said. “I think if we can just go into the CAAs playing relaxed golf, focusing on each shot and not putting extra pressure on ourselves, we can do a lot.”


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