Missouri women's golfer eyeing national tournament

Thursday, April 30, 2009 | 8:50 p.m. CDT
Missouri golfer Julia Potter will compete in the NCAA East Regional, which will start on May 7. Potter's coach, Stephanie Priesmeyer, said she thinks Potter has a good chance of qualifying for the national meet this season.

COLUMBIA – Missouri women's golfer Julia Potter says she hasn't forgotten how last season ended. Potter, a junior, missed qualifying for the NCAA national tournament last year as a sophomore by just a couple strokes.

“I always have that in the back of my mind,” Potter said.

But this season, Missouri women’s golf coach Stephanie Priesmeyer said she thinks Potter has a good chance of qualifying for the national meet at the NCAA East Regional, set to be played from May 7 to 9 at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Fla.

“She’s been at the top of every tournament she’s played in,” Priesmeyer said. “But she’s certainly got to tee it up and play for three days.”

Priesmeyer and assistant coach Mindy Bullard will travel to Florida with Potter, but Priesmeyer said at this point in the season, she doesn’t really need any more coaching.

Potter took several days off from practice after the Tigers returned from the Big 12 Conference Championships to catch up on rest and schoolwork. Missouri tied for 11th at the Big 12 meet, snapping the team’s streak of six-straight NCAA regional appearances.

Potter finished in a tie for 20th at the conference meet, becoming one of three individuals to qualify for the 21-team regional. The Tigers were scheduled to return to Columbia from Texas at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, but because of bad weather, the team didn’t arrive until 5:30 a.m. Monday.

“We were hovering around 63-65 in the rankings most of the year,” Priesmeyer said. “The magic number this year was 53 and we just couldn’t get enough wins this spring to get our ranking up.”

While Potter has stayed away from the practice course, she said she’s been calling people she knows who have played the course in Gainesville and she’s been researching it.

One issue she said she will have to address is her putting because the course is composed of Bermuda grass.

“The Bermuda rough is pretty thick and the greens always play differently,” Potter said.

The NCAA national tournament is set to be hosted by Georgetown University from May 19 to 22 at the Caves Valley Golf Club outside of Baltimore. The top eight teams, plus the top two individuals not on one of those teams from each of the three regionals, move onto the NCAA championships.

* The Missouri men’s golf team will also not be appearing in an NCAA regional tournament after finishing ninth at its Big 12 Tournament, but Tigers coach Mark Leroux said he’s hopeful senior Peter Malnati will be competing as an individual.

“He’s truly an outstanding kid and a great golfer, and he needs to get a chance,” Leroux said.

Leroux said the Tigers had their chances to pick up more wins this season, but mistakes and poor play on the last few holes of tournaments cost them.

He said he was was proud of his team’s effort at the conference tournament, though, saying that after a bad first day, the players battled back on the second day and finished strong on the third day.

“The guys had a great performance in the third round (played on the second day),” Leroux said. “We were actually looking to tie for the best round of the day.”

It ended up being the third-best round of the day, but it put the Tigers in a much better position, after holding last place after two rounds.

“To get even a glimpse of decent play was nice,” Leroux said.

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