(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – BYU’s women’s golf team is ready to begin a new season, building upon last year’s youth and embracing its new upcoming talent.
The Cougars welcome highly touted freshman Lea Garner and new assistant coach Juli Erekson to this year’s team. Ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of Utah for the class of 2012, Garner looks to make a big impact during her first season.
“We were really young last year and we look to build upon that experience,” head coach Carrie Roberts said. “Lea, coming on, she’s a great player, so it will push the other girls.”
Garner received many high school accolades, being named first team All-State from 2009-11 and being selected to the Junior America’s Cup team in 2010 and 2011. During the summer, Garner advanced to the Round of 32 in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship after an upset victory over number three seed Steffi Neisen. She also won the Mary Lou Baker Open for the second consecutive year.
Losing only one senior from last year’s team, the Cougars will rely on strong play from senior Amanda Keith, junior Annika Afoa Kahaiali'i and sophomores Maria Yacaman and Lauren Atkinson. Both Kahaiali’i and Atkinson finished in the top ten at last year’s Anteater Invitational leading BYU to a second place finish in the team’s final competition of the regular season.
New assistant coach Juli Erekson is excited to begin the new season, returning to her collegiate golf roots, this time as a coach. Erekson played at BYU from 2004-08, before competing on the LPGA Futures Tour as a professional from 2008-11. Being named to the Mountain West Conference All-Conference team in 2008, Erekson knows what it takes to succeed at the collegiate level.
The Cougars tee off the fall schedule next Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 17-18 at the Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. The tournament, played at the University of New Mexico Championship Course will feature fellow West Coast Conference opponent No. 24 Pepperdine.
“We’re excited to get going,” Roberts said. “It’s always a restart at the beginning of the year. I think we’ve gained a lot of experience and I’m looking forward to doing a lot better and playing a lot more consistently.”
Live stats and updates of tournament play can be followed throughout the season on Golfstat.com.