With one bad round it all came undone.
The University of Alabama women’s golf team struggled in the first round of the NCAA Championships under brutal weather conditions, and, ultimately, it cost the team its stated goal for the year.
That goal, to contend for a national championship, came crashing down with a 40-over par opening round that was played in temperatures in the mid-40s with wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour.
Nevertheless, the disappointing end to the season didn’t wipe away the accomplishments of an outstanding year for head coach Mic Potter and his bunch, which captured four tournament wins during the season.
“You know I’m really happy with the season,” Potter said. “I was just looking at some record books that I got from Golfstat and since I started in the 2005-06 season, we’ve improved our scoring average 15 shots per round as a team. So I definitely feel like we’re headed in the right direction scoring-wise.
“We have a really nice team lined up coming back. We only lose Mia Landegren and Cammie Gray. We have a good player coming in from Italy (Angelica Moresco). I’m happy with all that. We won the regional. But our stated goal this year was to get into match play at the national championship and play for the championship so that was disappointing. The girls are disappointed. I think they’re ready to do something about it.”
Returning for the 2017-18 season are two first-team All-Americans in Cheyenne Knight and Kristen Gillman and a second-team All-American in Lauren Stephenson. Throw into the mix a former No. 1-ranked prep player in Nicole Morales, a solid player in Lakareber Abe and a top international freshman added to the roster in Moresco and it’s easy to tell why Potter is excited about next season.
Knight was the SEC Player of the Year and Gillman was the SEC Freshman of the Year. Both were also voted first-team All-SEC along with Stephenson.
Potter said he wants his team to improve as a whole in consistently making the putts that really make or break rounds.
“I think the thing that struck me watching the U.S. Open last week is that when people are competing at a high level they make crucial short putts, 6 or 8 feet and in,” Potter said. “I think we need to do a better job as a team of holing out more putts. Then I look at the best players in the history of our program Stephanie Meadow, Cheyenne Knight…the thing that they do the best is they can make 6-footers when they have to. We’ve got to get better at that.”
With arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in women’s golf, Potter awaits the challenge of next season.
“Our first four, I wouldn’t trade with anybody,” Potter said. “I look for us to be a little deeper than we have been in the past.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.