FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Coming off a sixth-place finish at the Sacramento State Invitational last time out, the Northern Arizona University golf team will head down the mountain for some weekend action at the PING/Arizona State Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
The three-day, three-round tournament will begin Friday and extend through Sunday on the Karsten Golf Course, which plays a par 72 at 6,337 yards. It will arguably be the best invitational the Lumberjacks compete in all spring, as the field includes ASU, Arizona, Baylor, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon State, San Diego State, SMU, UNLV and Washington.
"It's going to be a big challenge," said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. "There are 14 teams, and it's a good field; a lot of quality teams and quality individuals. As a group, it's a good stepping-stone going into conference."
The scoring lineup for the Lumberjacks this weekend will consist of Sofia Anokhina, Kim Cifuentes, Kaitlyn Saum, Loren Skibba and Carly Akine, with Sierra Bezdicek and Emma Reyes competing as individuals.
As coach referenced above, this is the final tournament of the spring season for the Lumberjacks before Big Sky Conference Championships, April 21-23. While the primary emphasis is not necessarily on putting together the best results, NAU would certainly not be opposed to turning in some low scorecards and generating momentum heading into Big Sky's.
The Lumberjacks were teased their last time out playing at the Sacramento State Invitational, as the tournament which had been scheduled for three rounds ended up being cut short to two because of uncooperative weather. With two weekends off since that trip to Roseville, Calif., the NAU golfers have been making a concerted effort to improve their self-confidence by actively playing against one another.
"We were able to have quite a lot of competition rounds at practice the last couple of weeks," said Graduate Assistant Coach Langley Vannoy. "We believe that competing against your teammates pushes them to be better individually, and as a result, will create more confidence. Self-doubt is the only thing separating our golfers from being great, so to create inter-squad competition is a good way to instill belief and positive internal attitudes."
Trusting themselves and the process has been a bit of an issue that has plagued the NAU golfers, says Bedortha—all of whom are doing the right things physically and mentally, but experiencing some frustration with the expediency of their progression.
"Everybody is anxious," said Bedortha. "We know the quality of players we have and the quality of people that make up this team. I think they just want to be able to see it faster, so that's why we're stressing the concept of 'yet:' as a team, we just haven't played well yet. [Langley and I] continue to reinforce they all have the skillsets to do well, they just have to trust themselves and the time it takes to achieve that success."
Tee-times for Friday's first round have not yet been determined. However, fans at home can follow along with the action from Tempe with live stats here. Additionally, our Twitter page (@NAUGolf) will be posting updates sporadically throughout the weekend.