Kansas Women's Golf Spring 2013 Preview

Feb. 10, 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas’ women’s golf team is coming off one of the school’s most successful fall seasons in 2012. The Jayhawks won back-to-back tournaments in late September and early October and including those, had four top-10 finishes to close out the fall campaign.

The Jayhawks officially open the 2013 spring season at the Florida State Match Up Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla., Feb. 15-17.

KUAthletics.com caught up with eighth-year head coach Erin O’Neil Miller (EOM) to preview the upcoming spring season:

Coming off one of the best falls in Kansas women’s golf history, how has that success related to the team heading into the spring?

EOM: “I think it is a good confidence-builder. There is definitely some good momentum. They (KU women’s golf team) are very excited to get started this spring. They have been working hard, getting out and getting lots of extra work in on their own, which is good. I think they are really excited to keep going and see what they can accomplish this season.”

Kansas showed balanced competition in the fall as its top five players were within three strokes of each other in scoring average from 74.4 to 77.1. Does this make the competition in practice just that much tougher?

EOM: “It has definitely been more competitive and intense in practice and in qualifying. It has pushed all the girls to work harder, which I think is always a good thing to have that kind of competition within the squad. It helps push everyone to keep getting better.”

You used the same lineup in all five events last fall, do you expect that to change or do you like the consistency?

EOM: “I would like to have some of the other girls pushing to be in that lineup. It helps because, when some people get comfortable, they tend to not work as hard. I think it will help everybody stay on their ‘A Game’ if everyone is getting pushed. I think some of the girls from the fall who didn’t travel have worked over the break, and I have seen improvement in our qualifying recently. We added another transfer (sophomore Minami Levonowich) player in at mid-year. I am hoping that we’ll see some changes. I just want to see everyone pushing each other.”

You have one senior, one junior, three sophomores and two freshmen. Who are the leaders on this team? How do they lead?

EOM: “We have our captains, Fong (Thanuttra Boonraksasat) and Audrey (Yowell). Outside of that, I think everybody leads in their own way. Meghan (Potee) is probably our other leader; she steps up quite a bit for us. She is involved in SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) and other things like that. Those are probably our three main leaders. Meghan is definitely more of our vocal leader; she will call you out if you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing. Audrey is kind of a mixture. She does a lot by example but she is kind of the big sister. Yowell is the second oldest of seven kids so she is used to being the big sister. She will speak up but in a pretty nice way that gets their (other golfers) attention. Fong is more of a leader by example. She rarely has a bad day. She is always happy and has a good effect on chemistry by helping everyone get along. Fong also shoots good scores, so I think that is her way of leading by example.”

Mook (Yapaporn Kawainpakorn) won a tournament and Phong (Thanuttra Boonraksasat) was your leading scorer. How have they adjusted to playing golf in the U.S.?

EOM: “They have obviously done a good job of it as they are our two lowest in stroke averages. Fong is a little celebrity around here and her scores have been improving. Mook has come in and played really well right out of the gate. I am proud of both of them because it is not an easy thing to come over here, adjust to a different culture, a different style of golf and team golf. They have done a very good job.”

Besides the five who played last fall, who else is vying for playing time?

EOM: “Michelle Woods is right there. Minami (Levonowich) is starting to play better. I think she was a little overwhelmed coming in at mid-semester and adjusting to that change. I’ve seen her scores get progressively better so far. Mackenzie (Thayer) is getting better but she still has a little bit of work to do. It is probably Michelle and Minami that are pretty close to breaking through.”

How will this spring schedule prepare you for the Big 12 and NCAA championships?

EOM: “It (the Florida State tournament) is a really good field. It is a different format than we normally play. We are going to be teamed up with another team. It is going to be more of a team aspect rather than individual. We will be paired up with Furman. The Furman coach (Kelley Hester) is one of my best friends; I’ve known her since I was 15 and she was my teammate at Georgia (University).”

EOM: “We have everything spread out so we have two in February, two in March, and two in April, which I think will be good for us because it will give us time to work on some things.”

With golf being such an individual sport, how do you set individual goals?

EOM: “We do it per player. We have a statistical service called GolfStat that we send in the golfers’ stats after every tournament. It measures their fairway percentage, the greens that they hit, putts, up and downs, everything so we evaluate all of those for each player and talk to them about ways to improve certain stats that need to come up. We set our goals based on that and then we have our team goals.”

With the success of the fall, what are the team goals for this spring?

EOM: “They want to maintain what they started in the fall. Their goal was to give 120 percent every day, to have no excuses, to take 10 seconds before responding or reacting to something. It is those type of goals that everybody, whether they are travelling or not, can be a part of. It seems to have worked real well in the fall. Obviously make good grades, too. They want to have a 3.5 GPA, which we almost did in the fall (3.45). I think ultimately their goal is to make the postseason and to do that, they need to take it one day at a time and give it their best today.”