April 19, 2013
Mon.-Wed., April 22-24 | Live Stats
SEATTLE -- The 2013 Pac-12 Women's Golf Championships will have a different feel for the Huskies this upcoming week, Monday, April 22 through Wednesday, April 24 at Valencia Country Club in Los Angeles.
No, it's not that the team will be playing on an unfamiliar course for the first time. Nor is it the fact that the Husky quintet has a combined three players who have experienced a single Pac-12 Championship. The main difference will be that legitimate expectations will be heaped onto the Huskies' shoulders.
Washington enters Monday's opening round at the 6,300-yard, par-72 course as the No. 4 seed out of 11 teams. The Huskies have never won the Conference tournament, with a third in 1988 serving as the team's best finish. After that third, the Huskies have only finished in the top half of the field six other times - all fifth-place finishes, with the most recent one coming in 2010.
When told that her team was the fourth-seed at the tournament, Huskies' Head Coach Mary Lou Mulflur said, "I didn't even know we were the four seed." Perhaps, it serves as proof that rankings don't really matter, especially before the teams even tee it up.
"It is what it is and at the end of the day it doesn't really matter," Mulflur said. "It doesn't matter where you start, it matters where you finish.
"Come next Wednesday, we hope to be the one seed."
Mulflur's team is more equipped than many of her past teams to accomplish that goal. The Huskies are ranked 11th by Golfstat.com and 14th by Golfweek after a regular season that saw the team finish with two tournament victories and four runner-ups. The Huskies entered this spring ranked No. 1 after a fall season in which they notched both of those aforementioned wins and two seconds.
They are led by sophomore SooBin Kim and freshman Charlotte Thomas, who are both having historic seasons for the Huskies. Kim's scoring average of 71.83 is currently the lowest average in school history, while Thomas' 72.59 is right behind her in second. They each have seven top-10 finishes, which is one short of the UW single-season record of eight by Dodie Mazzuca in 1997.
Kim is currently ranked 10th by Golfstat and 15th by Golfweek among individuals, while Thomas is 30th in Golfstat and 37th in Golfweek's polls.
Behind that dynamic duo are sophomores Jennifer Yang and Cyd Okino, plus another freshman sensation in Ying Luo. The five have formed a young, cohesive team that has thrived this season because in a belief in themselves and each other.
"There is a really good chemistry on this team," Mulflur said on Friday, one day before her team left for California. "The work hard and they've really stayed focused this year on the process and what's most important - which is to get better each and every day.
"They are just a working group that wants to be the best team that we have ever had."
The Huskies will have to navigate a tough field this upcoming week if they are to finish in the top half of the 11-team Pac-12 Conference. USC is the top-ranked team in several circles and has four player among the Golfweek top 25. Arizona is the second seed and ranked 8th nationally.
Host UCLA enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed and is arguably the hottest team in the field. After an uncharacteristically slow fall season, UCLA has climbed up to 7th nationally and is always a threat.
Arizona State enters the tournament as the No. 5 seed, followed by Stanford, Oregon, defending champion California, Washington State, Oregon State and Colorado.
If Washington is to emerge as the tournament champion, there are many keys for the Huskies, but Mulflur pointed out that her team's success on the longer holes has proven to be a true difference maker.
"Right now we are leading the country in par-5 scoring," she said. "We need to continue to do that. That's a big one. That is where you can make a lot of birdies.
"We need to play the par-3's better," Mulflur added. "That has been a little bit of a bugaboo for us. When you have a perfect lie every time and you know the exact yardage, we need to do better at taking advantage of those situations."
The Huskies will be paired with Stanford on Monday and tee off on No. 1 starting at 8:30 in the morning. Following the first round, seedings and pairings will be determined by team scores.
Live scoring is available on Golfstat.com and recaps, plus reactions from Mulflur, will be available on GoHuskies.com each day.
If fans attend the tournament in person, admission is free.