Gophers golf fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about the 2019 season. The women's team showed heart rising from the bottom of the standings on the final day of play at the Minnesota Invitational, and will look to build on that success as they head into the ANNIKA Intercollegiate tournament in Lake Elmo this Monday.
When discussing possible reasons for the team’s success, fans can look no further than emerging star Kate Lillie. Lillie was able to turn heads as she consistently improved throughout her sophomore season, having her best round of the 2018 season at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown with a 71, and finishing in a tie for 36th. She has now begun her junior year campaign scoring as low as a 69 in the last round of the Minnesota Invitational at Prestwick Golf Club and finishing in a career-best 12th place.
“It’s always great being able to compete at home. The staff and volunteers here at Prestwick were awesome,” Lillie said.
Head Coach Michele Redman is content with where Lillie's game stands, and attributes the long days of practice to Lillie's and the team's success.
“It was great seeing Kate score low," Redman said. "I love seeing players work on things in practice that leads to success when it counts."
Lillie takes pride in being a leader for the team as an upperclassman this season.
“It’s always great to lead by example and show your teammates you have their back. I plan to continue to be a vocal leader on this team," Lillie said. “We have a lot of young talent this year, and it’s exciting to be able to compete with so many good players.”
Looking forward, the women’s golf team will have another opportunity to perform at home. This Monday the team will co-host the ANNIKA Intercollegiate at Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. During last season’s ANNIKA Intercollegiate Tournament, Lillie was able to put up one of her more impressive sophomore year performances, finishing tied for 53rd. Teammates Grace Kellar, Joanne Free and Jessica Lee competed at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate as well, finishing tied for 40th, 52nd and tied for 53rd respectively, while the team finished in 12th place.
The tournament is named after women's golf great, Annika Sörenstam. The tournament will feature an event for the players to meet Sörenstam, and she will present the winner of the ANNIKA Award, which is given to the nation's top female golfer.
“I’m really looking forward to the ANNIKA tournament, and seeing her there in person. The Princess Anne Invitational will be exciting for me too, I’ve never been to Virginia Beach," Lillie said.
Minnesota will face tough competition as it takes on 10 of the top 20 teams in the nation. The women begin the 54-hole competition on Monday as the Gophers tee off at 8:30 a.m.