The Virginia women’s golf team wrapped up the fall portion of its schedule ranked No. 4 by Golfweek and Golfstat. Golfworld Magazine named the Cavaliers the Surprise Team of the Year and junior Whitney Neuhauser its Most Improved Player. Head coach Kim Lewellen talks about the keys to the team’s success and what it will do in the off-season to prepare for the spring season.
Question: Were you surprised to be ranked No. 4 in the golf polls at the end of the fall season?Lewellen:
I know that I have very strong team with a lot of depth and a lot of good players. When I see the teams that are ranked higher than we are I mean the ones that are fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth I do feel like, head-to-head, we can beat them. No, it doesn’t surprise me, but we do have some work to do if we expect to beat the teams ahead of us. UCLA is a very good team. They have a stroke average of 72 per player. But I think we are capable of playing with those teams and I think the girls all know it. Their goal for the off season is to cut some of their strokes off so that we can give them a run for their money.Question: Is there anything in particular you attribute to the team’s success?
The girls have worked extremely hard. Not only over the summer on their own games, but when they got back, they have worked hard at practice, in the gym, at workouts. Everything they have done is to reach the goal to be the best they can be.
Question: Whitney Neuhauser had a terrific fall and ended the season ranked No. 11 among all individual players. What has been the difference for her this season?Lewellen:
The transition of Whitney over the past year has been unbelievable. I think Whitney is an extremely hard worker and extremely goal-oriented. She is going to put in the time; she is going to put in the effort in anything she is asked to do. I think that you can see that really pay off with her scoring average to really drop that much and to have as many under-par rounds as she has had. She is not giving up. As soon as our season is over, she is trying to figure out where she can make up strokes. She is out making a game plan for the winter and she is doing everything possible to continue to get better and better and better. That just speaks to her character and to why she is as good as she is.Question: Are their specific areas she has improved?Lewellen:
Overall, in every area, whether it was fairways, greens in regulation, putting or up-and-downs, she has improved her stats over the past year. Her greens in regulation have probably jumped the most. Her up-and-downs have probably improved the second most. Question: What will you emphasize in the off-season?Lewellen:
We are doing a lot to analyze everyone’s individual game. We are looking at where the weaknesses have been and where we have struggled some. To be ranked as high as we are, we have done so many things well. But, we are looking for those areas where we can save strokes. We are doing a lot of self-awareness and trying to find where those strokes can be made up. Then they will prepare their own performance goals to try and improve.Question: Jennie Arseneault is another player who is playing well for you.Lewellen:
Jennie has done very well this year. She is completely healthy. She has always been a good ball striker, but her putting has improved the most over the last year. She has worked hard on it and has a better understanding of some areas and that has shown. I just think she has just touched the surface of what her potential is.
Jennie is a competitor. She wants to compete. It is really neat to watch Jenny and Whitney because they have such similar personalities. In a joking way they always say how they want to beat each other. It has really helped to push them to get better at their games.
Question: Lene Krog struggled during the fall due to a knee injury. What is her status?Lewellen:
She just recently had her knee surgery. The rehab time is pretty quick so she should be able to walk around and chip and putt within four weeks. I feel like she will be back at it and better. The problem she was having with her left knee did not allow her to have a proper transfer of weight and she was hitting the ball poorly. I think this will help her bounce back to her usual game. We think she’ll be good as new.
Question: How excited are you about the recruiting class that just signed?Lewellen:
I’m thrilled about our recruiting class. We have three girls who have proved themselves on the national level. They all have great personalities and possess the desire and drive to win, not only on the golf course but also in the classroom. It is a good group.Question: Is there a particular highlight from the fall?Lewellen:
Looking back, I would have to say the preview, where we performed that well against the teams that were there. That set a stage for us and gave us confidence for the rest of the fall. Then again, in the stroke play portion of the match play championships. It was a closing that showed us we could perform with any team at any level. Those two tournaments showed we could give anyone a run for their money.