Women's Golf Improves Heading into Final Stretch

Coming off a third-place finish at the Mountain View Classic in Tucson, Arizona, March 20-21, the Wildcats will return to the course this weekend as the team is headed for Mesquite, Texas, to compete in the SMU/DAC Invitational.
"It was a good field at Mountain View," said K-State head coach Kristi Knight. "It was a large field, and that meant slow play, but we were impressed with their mental and physical stamina to get through that day. Any time you move up the leaderboard - we were fifth going into the final round then we finished tied for third - that's a positive. That's something that we like to see. We were really pleased coming off of Mountain View, and we're really looking forward to SMU."
Looking back to the beginning of the spring season, the Wildcats finished 12th at the Westbrook Invitational. However, that 12th-place finish was followed by a seventh-place finish at the BYU Entrada Classic, and things have only gone up from there. 
"We're getting close. We've had three spring events, and I think both Stewart (Burke, assistant coach) and I think we're headed in the right direction," said Knight. "We started out a little slowly, comparatively speaking to the fall, but we had a strong finish at Mountain View. We finished third out of 20 teams, and I think we've seen a lot of good things. I feel like we're heading the right direction at the right time."
K-State earned two tournament victories in the fall in addition to one second-place finish and had two players win individual championships.
Much of the Wildcats' success this 2014-15 season can be credited to the maturity and cohesiveness of this year's squad. Perhaps the most competitive roster the Wildcats have had in quite some time, it is always close between its top three competitors - freshman Connie Jaffrey, sophomore Madison Talley and senior Olivia Eliasson - while the rest of the squad isn't far behind.  
"We have five players who can fill that No. 1 spot any time when they're called upon," explained Burke. "They're pulling for one another. They have that drive to be the best team they can. They deal with adversity, and they're not scared. I wasn't shy telling them that they didn't perform how we expected after the first two events. You've got to be positive and constructive, and they came back from it and did their part. We couldn't have had that finish (at Mountain View) without them stepping up."
From Missouri to Sweden to Quebec to New Jersey, this year's Wildcat roster is made up of student-athletes from around the globe, but despite their differences, they've come together as one. They're best friends, but that doesn't mean they're not competitive - and that's a quality Knight has enjoyed. 
"These kids get along, they push each other, they love each other and support each other, but they're not afraid to beat each other," said Knight. "They like beating each other. I think you need that and I think that's what good teams need. I think these ladies would do absolutely anything for each other, but when they go out and play, they all want to be low. They all want to be the best player.
"But that's what you're supposed to have; you can be great friends, great teammates, but I think one of the neat things about this team is that they like beating each other. They enjoy it, but they still have great chemistry. To me that's made this group a lot of fun." 
Not only does the team push one another, but it believes in one another. 
"This is a team that rises to the occasion as well," added Burke. "If you look at the fields, and the teams we've been paired with, the best fields are where we've really done our best work. It's almost like they know they belong in that group of the top schools. Through everything we've done in practice, we've worked on that self belief, and it's just awesome."
The Wildcats' chemistry and self belief will be important in the upcoming weeks as, after this weekend's tournament in Mesquite, K-State will travel to the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational. Both tournaments will provide K-State the opportunity to pair up against tough competition as it looks forward to the Big 12 Championship, April 24-26, in San Antonio, Texas.
"Both of our upcoming tournaments will prepare us for the Big 12 Championship with the nature of the golf courses and the quality of the fields," explained Knight. "It's all golf. It's 18 holes, the hole is the same size at every location, but I think that playing certain types of golf courses can certainly prepare you mentally and it gives you the opportunity to work on certain shots.
"But it's all about staying in the moment," continued Knight. "Staying with the shot that's in front of you and not getting hung up on the last hole or the hole that's coming. You have to stay in the moment, and when we've had good tournaments, that's what they've done." 
 

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