They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this weekend for the Hoosiers, the stakes will be bigger than they’ve been all season long.
Thursday is the beginning of the three-round NCAA Regional for the 14th seeded Hoosiers and they will be looking to advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2007.
In order to do that, they have to place in the top six. IU Coach Clint Wallman said IU's mindset cannot be to aim for sixth place. Instead, they need to shoot for first.
“In terms of the tournament itself, we’re going to treat it like the tournament,” Wallman said. “We’re making sure that our focus is going down to win the golf tournament, as it is on all of the other tournaments, not just finish in the top six. I think that is a cardinal mistake because then you start playing for sixth place.”
Wallman said the players have somewhat underrated themselves this season, but sophomore Alix Kong said they have the confidence to make it into the top six.
“We have the mindset that we have the potential to make it in the top six,” Kong said. “We all know as a team that this will be our hardest challenge all year, but we can’t approach it any differently.”
Kong is one of the five participants for the Hoosiers along with Ana Sanjuan in the one spot followed by freshman Erin Harper, senior Camille Chevalier, Kong and rounded out with junior Theresa-Ann Jedra.
Other than Jedra, the other four finished in the top-25 in their last outing, the Big Ten Championships, just two weeks ago.
As for the course itself, the Traditions Club Golf Course in Bryan, Texas, is a Jack Nicklaus designed course that will suit this team’s game, Kong said.
“I know it will play tough because the course will be in really good condition,” Kong said. “We just have to take it shot by shot, but I think it’s all looking really good because we all like the design. We’re all in the right atmosphere and the state of mind to do well.”
The par-72 course will play either 6,242 yards or 6,343 yards depending on tee box locations, but nonetheless, IU will be shooting for that 72 number and looking to add onto their 29 under par rounds on the season.
When it comes down to it, the team’s mantra of “What’s my target” just won’t go away as Wallman has preached this to his team from the get-go this season. The team thought, “why is he saying this so much?” Kong said, but it all had a purpose.
“I honestly think it’s been super helpful,” Kong said. “It really helps because we can focus on one thing at a time. A lot has happened to us in the last semester so if we didn’t go by this ‘what’s my target’ mentality, then I don’t think we would have done so well.”
The stakes this weekend will be greater than they have been all season, and Wallman quoted the course designer himself when talking about the stakes and the pressure that the weekend can bring.
“It’s very easy to get caught up against the field and the great Jack Nicklaus said ‘success in golf depends on two things, managing yourself and managing the course,’” Wallman said. “I say this to the girls all the time, ‘there’s no tackling in golf. It’s you and the golf course and you can physically play it fantastic and be outplayed, or you can play mediocre and win, it’s all relative.’”
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