Senior Margaret Gibby is the leader on the team looking to improve on their best finish in ten years. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO--What can be better than coming off your best season in ten years? Having the chance to be even better than you were the year before.
BYU women's golf coach Sue Nyhus is extremely optimistic about her team's chance for success this year. Ask her how she feels about this year's team and she can't wipe the smile off her face. You can just tell she's excited and loves her players.
With four returning starters, who are now a year older, a year more mature and year more experienced, Nyhus sees the Cougars making big strides this season.
"We don't want to be a bubble team this year," she said. "We want to be a top-10 team in our region."
Nyhus has plenty of firepower to help the team a higher level of success.
This year's squad is anchored by seniors Margaret Gibby and Natalie Newren. Gibby led the Cougars this past year with a 76.8 stroke average, including five Top-20 finishes. Gibby also finished third at the Utah Women's State Am over the summer.
Newren led the Cougars with six top-20 finishes last season. Newren's season was highlighted by her ninth place finish at the Bobcat Desert Classic.
Nyhus said the seniors have really devoted themselves to improving the team and the program.
"They've committed 100 percent to golf this year," Nyhus said. "They know how to be leaders. They know how to help those underneath them."
Two of those underneath the seniors are incoming freshmen Ashley Childers and Juli Wightman. Childers was a two-time team MVP on the Murrieta Valley High School All-League Championship team.
Wightman was a four time WMASS title winner and the Massachusetts State Champion in 2002.
Nyhus said Childers and Wightman are exciting players here to help the women's golf program blossom.
The Cougars will also have the fortune to be returning Alexis Edwards and Rachel Newren. Nyhus said the experience these two bring to the table will be especially helpful.
Edwards was a solid contributor on the team last year, and will be counted on to contribute more this year. She was also recognized as a scholar athlete by the MWC.
Rachel Newren is looking to build off the her great finish at the NCAA Regional tournament. Rachel tallied the highest finish of any of the Cougars by placing 37th out of 108. She also led the Cougar underclassmen with a 77.7 stroke average.
Nyhus is also excited for the return of Danielle von Armin. Von Armin was sidelined last year with injuries, but is now fully recovered and ready to help the Cougars win. She spent the summer on the NCAA Golf Asia Tour, making stops in Korea, Japan, China or Thailand.
The Cougars have also received some great help from assistant coach Dave DeSantis. Nyhus said DeSantis has had a huge impact on the program.
"He puts together the most structured, effective practices," Nyhus said. "We're fortunate to have him on our staff."
The Cougars will also enjoy the help of current LPGA player Carrie Summerhays-Roberts. Roberts will help with the team when she's not on tour while her husband finishes school at BYU. Nyhus said Roberts brings a wealth of knowledge with her that will be invaluable to the current Cougars.
With all this extra help and the experience and talent of this year's team, the women's golf team is headed for even greater heights than they've achieved in the last few years.