Women's Golf, Gockel Set to Defend Titles at Duramed/Rio Verde Collegiate

March 3, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s golf and senior Meghan Gockel will return to Rio Verde, Ariz., to defend their titles at the Duramed/Rio Verde Collegiate tournament March 5-7. The event will consist of an 18-team field with eight teams ranked in the top 100 according to Golfstat.com. Minnesota is the highest ranked team at 56th, followed by Michigan at 75th. Kansas is ranked 77th.

The tournament will be played on the Quail Run golf course, which has been newly redesigned. The Jayhawks will be familiar with the course, as it is the same course the team played on last year.

“We are looking forward to returning to Rio Verde,” said Kansas head coach Erin O’Neil. “The course sets up well for us and it’s always a confidence boost to go back to an event that we have won before.”

Led by Gockel’s first-place finish, Kansas took the tournament title a year ago with a three-round team total of 883. Gockel fired rounds of 73-72-73 for a total of 218, her career-best. She won medalist honors in a one-hole playoff. Gockel attributes her short-game and positive attitude to her success that week.

“It was a lot of things, mainly my chipping and putting (that led to success),” she said” In addition to that, I think it was my mental attitude – staying optimistic and not beating myself up over little mistakes.”

Senior Emily Powers, junior Meghna Bal and sophomore Kalynd Carson each tied for 10th at the event last year with scores of 225. Junior Sydney Wilson rounded out the Kansas lineup with a score of 226 to tie for 15th.

“It felt like the culmination of all my hard work on the golf course and in the weight room had paid off,” Gockel said about her win last year. “I had not really been playing very well up until that point and sometimes it gets frustrating when you don’t see your work pay off. That week it definitely did and that was encouraging. It encouraged me to keep working for the rest of the season.”

Gockel went on to lead the Jayhawks to a fifth-place finish at the Big 12 Championship, where she finished tied for sixth in the individual race.

“Meghan played very steady last year at this event and walked away with a great win,” O’Neil said. “She has a solid short game and gets the most out of her game every round she plays. She is very dedicated and it was wonderful to see all of her hard work pay off. Winning at Rio Verde was a huge step for Meghan’s confidence and it showed her what she is capable of doing. She followed up her victory by finishing sixth individually at the Big 12 Conference Championship that spring and led the team to our best Big 12 Conference finish ever.”

In the fall 2009 campaign, Gockel averaged a 78.86, with her best finish coming at Nebraska’s Chip-N Club Invitational, where she tied for 24th with a 228. She opened the spring 2010 season by chipping in a 235 to tie for 75th at the Edwin Watts/Kiawah Island Classic.

This year’s Duramed/ Rio Verde lineup will consist of Gockel, Powers, Clark, Bal and junior Grace Thiry. Freshman Audrey Yowell will compete as an individual in her second tournament for the Jayhawks. Yowell debuted for Kansas at the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational, where she fired a 251 and tied for 51st competing as an individual.

Gockel is looking forward to returning to Arizona and her only expectation is to try hard and have a good time on the golf course.

“I try not to have expectations because usually ends up for the worse because I get too hard on myself,” she said. “I always set the bar high for myself. My expectation for this week is to give it my all and have a good time being in Arizona for a week.”