The Cougars hope to achieve both a MWC championship and entrance to postseason play. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU women’s golf program looks forward to a new season of opportunity and excellence to build upon last year’s strong finish at the Mountain West Conference tournament.
Under the direction of head coach Sue Nyhus and assistants Mike Smith and Tele Wightman, the Cougars finished last season in second place in the MWC and earned a 17th -place finish at the NCAA West Regionals in Albuquerque, just shy of qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Despite a strong finish with a relatively young team, Nyhus knows there is much to improve.
“We are working hard daily to improve our player’s technique, course management, and confidence,” Nyhus said. “After losing three starters of five one might consider this year a really tough rebuilding year. However, we are celebrating the opportunities to seek perfection.”
Led by First Team All-MWC senior Natalia Jimenez, the team looks to build on last year’s success and work toward a MWC Championship this season. Jimenez paced the Cougars with four Top-20 finishes and earned the team’s lowest stroke average. She took first place in the Roar-EE Invitational in New York with a combined score of 16-over-par 229. She tied for second in the MWC Championships and fifth place at the BYU Dixie Classic in St. George. She also tied for 13th at the UNLV Spring Invitational.
“Our team is young with only one senior and returning starter,” Nyhus said. “However, we are strong and gaining strength and confidence with every practice and every tournament.”
Maggie Yuan, a freshman from Sichuan, China, joins the team after a stellar youth career in China and Australia. Yuan was named the 2007 Best Player of the Year at Robina State High School and the Queensland Intercollegiate Golf Association. Other notable achievements include first-place honors at the 2007 Bribie Island Ladies Classic, the Queensland Intercollegiate and the 2008 Queensland Under-21 Girls tournament.
Sophomore Jade Bollinger is expected to play a bigger role this season as she looks to improve from a second-place finish at last year’s Weber State Wildcat Invitational and third place at the UNLV Spring Invitational. She had three other Top-20 finishes, tying for No. 20 at the BYU Dixie Classic, tenth at the Roar-EE Invitational and No. 19 at the MWC Championships.
Juniors Shayla Forsey and Camille Gardner look to develop their game this year along with sophomore Sara Romero. Redshirt freshman Staisha Stratton will help incoming freshmen Amanda Keith and Jenteal Jackson with their talent development throughout the year. Jackson also plays for the BYU women’s basketball team.
“One of the greatest qualities this team has is that they are teachable,” Nyhus said. “We are young and talented and look forward to steady improvement throughout the year.”