After completing the 2010 season with two top-10 finishes, the BYU women’s golf team is looking forward to 2011 and a chance for success in its final season as a member of the Mountain West Conference under the direction of new head coach Carrie Roberts.
Roberts was a standout golfer for the Cougars from 1998 to 2002, amassing four All-Conference awards and back-to-back Mountain West Conference Golfer of the Year accolades as a sophomore and junior. She also holds the BYU all-time record for number of tournament victories with six over her four-year career.
“It’s been great,” said Roberts of her new responsibilities as head coach. “There has been somewhat of a learning curve, but I love being with the team and everything about it.”
The Cougars had a very successful fall, posting top-10 finishes in each of their three tournaments, including a first-place finish at the Circling Raven Invitational in Worley, Idaho. Following a ninth-place finish at the McGuire Invitational, BYU rode strong performances from all five golfers to capture third place at the Turtle Bay Invitational in Kahuku, Hawaii.
“We scored really well in the fall,” Roberts said. “We started off strong by placing first at the Circling Raven Invitational and remained positive and worked hard. We’ve improved a lot from the previous fall.”
Among the top returning golfers for the Cougars is junior Maggie Yuan, who finished the 2010 spring season as the team leader in stroke average of 75.83 with five top-25 finishes and the individual championship at the BYU Entrada Classic. Yuan finished tied for fourth place at the Mountain West Conference Championships and continued her success into the 2010 fall season during which she carded two top-20 finishes, including tying for fifth at the Turtle Bay Invitational in Kahuku, Hawaii. Yuan was named co-captain for the 2011 campaign.
“Maggie is a natural leader,” Roberts said. “She knows what she needs to do to get better and the team follows her because they see her work ethic paying off in her game.”
The Cougars will also look to seniors Jade Bollinger, Emily Copier and Sara Romero for leadership and much-needed experience. Bollinger and Copier both received MWC Scholar-Athlete awards as well as being named to the 2010 NGCA Division I All-American Scholar Team. Romero will be joining Yuan as a team co-captain and an example of the BYU golf tradition in 2011.
“She (Romero) is a leader because of the type of person she is,” said Roberts of Cougars’ veteran captain. “People respect her for who she is and how she carries herself.”
Bollinger paced the Cougars during the fall season, with her best finish coming at the Circling Raven Invitational where she shot rounds of 75-73-72 to grab fourth place. She followed that with a sixth-place finish at the McGuire Invitational and 16th place overall at Turtle Bay. After participating in summer golf camps for handicapped children, Roberts said Bollinger has found a new perspective when it comes to the game.
“Jade (Bollinger) gained a new appreciation for being able to play,” Roberts said. “The new gratitude she realized shows and it has paid off. She is definitely a leader.”
Returning from last year’s squad are sophomores Kelsey Vines, Amanda Keith and redshirt freshman Annika Afoa, joined by junior Mercedes Attig.
Vines came into her own during the final tournament of the fall season, shooting a first-round 71 en route to finishing tied for 7th place. Keith’s best finish came at the Circling Raven Invitational where she tied for 12th. Afoa helped pace the Cougars at the same tournament on her way to finishing tied for 18th place.
The lone newcomer for BYU is Maria Yacaman, a native of Bogota Colombia, who comes to the Cougars after an impressive prep career. Yacaman recorded wins at the South American Amateur Championship and the El Tiempo Amateur National Championship in 2008, while finishing third at the Junior National Championships in 2010.
“Our goal is to have fun and win every tournament we enter,” Roberts said. “It’s a matter of working hard every day and being grateful for the opportunities we’ve been given, both on and off the golf course.”