Mary Lou Mulflur
Three Huskies, led by SooBin Kim in fifth, are among the top 10 after the first of three rounds of the 2013 Pac-12 Women's Golf Championship at Valencia Country Club.
Washington enters the Pac-12 Championships, which will be held at Valencia Country Club, Monday April 22 through April 24 as the No. 4 seed.
SooBin Kim, Ying Luo and Charlotte Thomas have come from Korea, Canada, China, England, and Singapore to become Huskies. Now they are anchoring the youngest, most talented team UW has had.
The Huskies shot a 6-over 294 for a second-consecutive day on Sunday to finish tied for 11th at the PING/ASU Invitational.
Jennifer Yang is tied for ninth and Washington is 12th as a team after two rounds of play at the PING/ASU Invitational.
Photos from Sahalee Golf Club, site of the 2011 Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational.
Mary Lou Mulflurstill remembers her dad telling her she ought to accept her alma mater's offer to coach the Huskies' women's golf team.
That was three decades ago.
She was only three years removed from graduation at UW in 1983, owning a degree in speech communications. And she laughed at him.
"Dad, you know what that job pays? Like, $3,000," Mulflur remembers telling her father back when women's golf was buried in the deep rough of the nation's college sports landscape.
"I had no intention of taking the job."
But then one of the first UW women to get an athletic scholarship when she arrived as a two-time high school state champion and 1975 junior champion from Portland, Ore., got to thinking: Washington had just gone through two coaches in as many seasons trying to follow iconic Edean Ihlanfeldt. UW's eight-year-old program needed stability, and it was asking its four-year letter winner and three-time medalist from 1976-80 to give them some.
What the Huskies have received in return is beyond theirs or Mulflur's dreams.
"I thought maybe I could do it for a few years to provide that stability, but I didn't know what I was doing. ... Gosh, I could not have imagined this," Mulflur said with a chuckle from Bryan, Texas, before Wednesday's final practice day and then Washington's appearance in another NCAA championship, Thursday through Saturday.
Live scoring will be available daily on NCAA.com. Here at GoHuskies.com we will have daily recaps and photos after each day, plus live commentary via Twitter (@UW_WGolf).
It's the ninth time UW has qualified for the NCAA finals in the former speech communications-major-in-training's 28 years as coach. Mulflur is one of four longest tenured women's golf coaches in the country, and only crew bedrock Bob Ernst has a longer tenure leading a Huskies program.
"I feel I am the luckiest person in the world, doing what I love at a school I love," Mulflur said over the phone from Texas. "Like today, I was out there on this beautiful course with the team, all this green grass - acres and acres of green grass - and I was thinking, `This is my office.'
Also pretty neat: The unique collaboration Mulflur enjoys with fellow Husky coaches.
Those relationships may pay off in a tangible way this week in Texas.
The Huskies' first appearance in the NCAA women's golf championships since 2006 got an unexpected boost last week in a most unlikely setting: A staff compliance meeting.
Mulflur was sitting down with her coaching colleagues, days before she and her Huskies left for the Traditions Club course in Texas. She turned around in her seat before the monthly meeting on NCAA rules began to introduce herself to a man she'd never met.
It was Mike Neighbors, who had just been announced at UW as part of women's basketball coach Kevin McGuff's new staff. He said hello.
"By the way," Neighbors added, "I know the Traditions course pretty well. I've probably played it 100 times."
Mulflur almost swallowed her compliance notes. She eagerly invited McGuff's former assistant at Xavier to meet with her and Huskies golf assistant coach Andrea VanderLende, to give them an insider's scoop on the NCAA championship course.
Neighbors explained Tradition's tree-lined fairways, its often tricky winds and the small greens that are uniquely tiered. Humps divide the greens left and right instead of the usual front-to-back separation in most bi-level greens. That means the Huskies will not only have to reach the greens this week but reach the correct side of them, to stay on the same plane as the hole and create easier putts.
"What we have at Washington is unique. The camaraderie among coaches, between the women's coaches and the men's coaches, is something very few places have," Mulflur said. "We are always sharing, willing to help to each other. I have a great relationship with the other coaches at U-Dub, probably the best I've had since I've been here."
But the Huskies have more than just inside information going for them this weekend at the NCAA championships, where the program's best finishes were sixth-place showings in 2006 and in '04.
For the first time this spring, UW got a complete team effort to finish seventh at the NCAA regionals 10 days ago on its home course, Washington National in suburban Auburn.
Sadena Parks, a junior from Tacoma, set a course record with a 6-under 66 on the second day of the regional to get UW within range of a top-eight finish and qualification for the NCAA championships. Then on the final day, senior Karinn Dickinson overcame a triple-bogey on her first hole to go 1-under the rest of the way. Then senior Anya Alvarez, who could be a professional this time next month, and Parks birdied the next-to-last hole.
That, plus the efforts of freshmen A Ram Choi and Kelli Bowers, got the Huskies to Texas - and into a great frame of mind for these NCAA championships. Their eighth-place finish at the Pac-10 finals is a distant memory.
"We are focused and loose, which is good," Mulflur said. "We had a really solid fall, but I think by everyone's definition we haven't played well this spring.
"But this is why you play, to be in these settings. We have a team of competitors, of real fighters. I think that will come through this week."