End of the line

By Gus Bode

SIU women’s golf prepares for conference championships

The Saluki women’s golf team has been practicing between classes and staying at the course until sundown this week in preparation for the Missouri Valley Conference Championships, which begins Sunday at Northern Iowa.

After being the favorite each of the last two seasons, this year’s team will take a different role.


“I used to make motivational things for them,” head coach Diane Daugherty said. “We’d talk about getting the ring. Maybe we built it up too much because the last two years we’ve been the favorites and we haven’t won the conference and we haven’t played very well at all.”

Last season, the Salukis fell victim to a Bradley squad that played far better than it had all season, something that the Salukis are hoping to do Sunday through Tuesday at Beaver Hills Country Club. The winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

And when they do tee off, it won’t be the same old Salukis. Four of the six competitors will be playing in their first ever conference championship. This includes redshirt freshman Tiffany Fritsche, who has shown flashes of greatness.

“We’re just acting like it’s a regular tournament,” Fritsche said. “We’ve practiced hard this week, and I think it’s gonna pay off.”

The Salukis were picked to finish fourth by league coaches and received one first-place vote. Daugherty also gave her team a fourth-place vote, but she expects more from her team.

“I want to be in the top three, and I think that if we play to our potential, we can even win even, though on paper we don’t look like we can,” Daugherty said.

To pull off the upset, one thing SIU will have to work on is the short game, something that troubled the Salukis in a ninth-place finish in its final tournament of the regular-season. In their three tournaments prior to that event, the Salukis had finished no worse than sixth.


The team is not discouraged, though.

“I think it’s going to motivate us more because we know that we’re better than that,” Fritsche said. “We just want to prove ourselves and it’s a good time to prove it since it’s our conference.”

Despite not having been the underdog all season, SIU is relishing the opportunity.

“It’s kind of fun to be the underdog and not have all the pressure, if you want to know the truth,” Daugherty said. “They’re having more fun this week. They don’t look like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. If they can keep that attitude in Iowa, we’ll see.

“I’m optimistic. I have all the faith in the world in them.”

Reporter Ethan Erickson can be reached at [email protected]