Commodores Crack the Top 10! 12/11/01

Head Coach
Martha Freitag

What a fall it was for Vanderbilt golf!

In just four tournaments, the Commodores cast themselves squarely in the hunt for the NCAA Championship and at one time the collegiate golf world tuned in to learn that Vanderbilt was ranked No. 1 in the nation.

When the last putt was holed out to conclude the fall's tournament play, Coach Martha Freitag's team found itself ranked No. 7, poised to make a strong run this spring.

The rise of this team over the last year has been breathtaking. Not ranked in the Top 50 in September, 2000, the Commodores are ahead of everyone's schedule - except their own.

"When you analyze our fall season, it was pretty impressive," says Freitag. "We set some lofty goals and accomplished a number of them quickly. So now we are setting new goals. What we want to do is to put ourselves in position to win a tournament and then win one."

And then, win another.

Nicki Cutler

That attitude may best explain the biggest difference between this team and last year's. A year ago, Freitag says, the team was adjusting to life in the Top 25. Today, the Commodores know they belong in the Top 10 and are hungry for more.

From a team standpoint, there were a number of fall highlights beginning with the first event - the inaugural Mason Rudolph Invitational at their own Legends Club of Tennessee.

It was there that the Commodores turned heads, placing second in a talented field of (14). It was here that the Black and Gold set a school record with a 284 opening salvo, four under-par. It was here that junior Nicki Cutler jumped into the national limelight by finishing second with a three-under par 213.

Other strong performances came from Meredith Ward (T^), Courtney Wood (T13) and freshman Joni Gossett (T14).

Coach Freitag and Nicki Cutler
Mason Rudolph

From the Mason Rudolph - the only major tournament in the nation with both men's and women's events held concurrently - it was on to the FST Tarheel Invitational.

Vanderbilt finished third in the field of 14, just three strokes from second. Cutler placed second and Ward was fourth.

The Pepsi Women's Intercollegiate Tournament at Stanford was the site of more fireworks. Vanderbilt fired a new school record 280, (eight under par), in the first round. That was a springboard to a strong second place finish behind Tulsa but ahead of 15 other schools, many of which were from the Pac-10.

Cutler was exceptional again, finishing fourth with a six-under par 210, both setting new school records. Sophomore Sarah Jacobs chipped in with a Top 20 place after opening rounds of 69 and 73.

The last action of the fall was the Lady Paladin at Furman. A fifth place finish in a tough field of 21 - just seven shots out of third - was probably the team's softest performance of the otherwise outstanding autumn campaign.

Courtney Wood

Courtney Wood, who Freitag expects to be shooting par or even better this spring, led the team with a solid fourth place finish.

Freitag sees more team depth as a bonus heading into the spring.

"We need all 10 members of our team working hard if we are to be as successful as we want to be," Freitag says. "Attitudes are contagious and we have done a good job of understanding our roles. We are excited but far from satisfied. We know we have not played our best golf yet. That's still ahead of us."


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