Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|College Teams||High Schools|
July 4, 2012The past, present and future of University of Alabama women's golf will be on display at the U.S. Women's Open, with two former Crimson Tide players, one current player and an incoming freshman among the 156 competitors in the event, which begins today at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.
Jenny Suh, a second-year player on the LPGA tour, and Brooke Pancake, who will be playing professionally for the first time, will be joined by current UA player Stephanie Meadow and signee Emma Talley in representing Alabama.
"It's pretty remarkable, really, that we have that," said Meadow, who will be a junior in 2012-13. "It's so good for our program."
Said Alabama coach Mic Potter, "In the three-generation thing, I think it says something about where the program has come from, where it is now and where it is going in the future."
Pancake finished her collegiate career by sinking the clinching birdie putt in UA's national championship victory in late May in Franklin, Tenn.
"I've been playing nonstop the last couple of months," she said. "I drove to St. Louis for U.S. Open qualifying, then drove straight to Tuscaloosa and then flew to Scotland for the Curtis Cup."
Pancake was joined at the Curtis Cup by Meadow, a native of Jordanstown, Northern Ireland, who played on the winning Great Britain and Ireland team. Meadow earned her spot in the U.S. Women's Open last weekend by winning the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland.
"I've had such a remarkable month," she said. "It's brilliant."
Talley, from Princeton, Ky., traveled about as far as possible without going overseas to qualify. She flew to Bellingham, Wash., and tied for first in a qualifying event. The top two finishers advanced to this week's big event.
"It was the only date that would work in her schedule with high school graduation coming up and all that," Potter said.
Talley, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American, is playing in the U.S. Women's Open for the second time.
"I'm not too worried about inexperience being a problem for her, or lack of talent," Potter said. "She's got both."
Suh, who transferred from Furman when Potter left that school to take the job at UA, was a keystone in the building of a championship women's golf program at Alabama.
"She'll be more experienced," Potter said, "than the others."
Pancake will be playing with many of her golfing heroes for the first time.
"This is an event I've always watched through high school and while I was in college," she said. "This is basically the best I could think of to start my pro career at one of the majors against the best players in the world. It was such a relief (to qualify) coming out of college and having such a great year."
Meadow played in the British Open last year, but didn't make the cut. That finish has motivated her for this event.
"It's just a great opportunity to kind of size yourself up against the best players in the world," she said. "Going into (the British Open), I was a little unsure, being my first major. I think I was a little overwhelmed with everything there.
"Any time you're in a high-pressure situation like we were in (NCAA) nationals, it's going to help you. You can use that experience to build on."
Potter has had to schedule around his roster's success. Meadow and Jennifer Kirby will both play in the World Amateur Team Championships in September in Turkey. UA's coach has scheduled an open date to coincide with that event.
"I wouldn't want to go play anywhere without Jennifer and Stephanie in our lineup," Potter said.
Getting golfers to the level where they can play in major events like the U.S. Women's Open speaks to Potter's success in building the Alabama program. The program benefits when younger players bring that experience back to college.
"The qualifying process itself, I think, teaches you a lot about the mental game, focus, one shot at a time, not worrying about the results -- the sort of things we preach all the time," Potter said. "If you make it through qualifying, hitting balls beside the best players in the world, the ones you've seen on TV all the time, that takes a lot of pressure off when you're playing in a collegiate tournament."
Reach Tommy Deas at email@example.com or at 205-722-0224.