By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
The year-long wait is over and it’s time for No. 15 Baylor women’s golf to start postseason play, beginning with the Big 12 Championship Friday morning at the Golf Club at Houston Oaks.
Peaking toward the end of the season is always ideal, and head coach Jay Goble is feeling confident in his team’s play.
“Every year, this is what we’re shooting for is to have our game start to get better and better throughout the season,” Goble said. “I really like the way the team is trending and like the way that we’re playing right now.”
Sophomore Britta Snyder echoed her coach’s thoughts, as she feels like the squad is “playing really solid right now.”
“We have a lot of confidence and momentum as a team right now,” Snyder said. “We’ve slowly been peaking throughout this semester and it’s coming around at the right time. We’re all kind of building off each other’s games.”
Reemerging into competition among the Big 12 also reopens the door to some of those fierce rivalries that stretch beyond the course.
“There’s definitely rivalries within the Big 12 as well. You just want to represent the Big 12 the best you can and win,” Snyder said. “We’re all very excited for this tournament, to be able to perform against the teams that we know are so strong, but we’re really confident with our chances this year. We’re all expecting to go out and have a great week.”
The Bears are coming off an overwhelming 12-shot win in the Bruzzy Challenge that featured nine of the 10 Big 12 schools. Fifth-year senior Gurleen Kaur believed it “was almost a Big 12 preview” and that it “was good preparation going into this next event.” Kaur also said this success can build into what the team’s goals have been all season: something brighter following conference play.
“It’s especially important going into regionals and nationals too,” Kaur said. “Our expectation and our hopes are to win this week, but to play well is the ultimate goal. Then to keep trending [in order] to get to nationals is the end, end goal. It’s good, we’re all getting our games ready in shape as best as we can.”
In terms of success on the course, Snyder attributed it to staying fresh in between events all season long, especially when the squad was home in Waco.
“The difference between this year and last year is that we’ve been playing a lot back home in Waco and out at Ridgewood [Country Club] this semester,” Snyder said. “We’ve been able to score our ball a lot better while we’re not playing in tournaments and that’s helped us carry from tournament to tournament and be able to build off the momentum and not just have lows while we’re back home.”
Being able to score their ball much better has been eye-opening to Goble, and he’s seen a much smoother game from his athletes as the season has progressed.
“They’re scoring their ball really well. Their short games are good and in a good spot. That’s something that you need in postseason,” Goble said. “The thing that we see early on in the season is kind of sloppy mistakes we would call them, or soft errors. Right now, they’re cleaning a lot of those up.”
One thing the 11-year coach preaches to his group is “fighting for every shot.” He said the team’s ability to make the most of each hole is something to notice.
“Every shot matters,” Goble said. “When you look at most of the tournaments we play in – five players, three rounds – it usually comes down to a couple shots. And again, if we’re fighting for those pars, if we’re fighting to scramble and even make a bogey sometimes, that’s what I like to see. That’s what I’m seeing a lot of right now is that we’re fighting for our score, and we’re fighting for every shot that we have in front of us.”
The Bears will tee off at 8 a.m. Friday along with No. 6 Oklahoma State University and No. 13 University of Texas. Baylor has earned a top-five finish in four straight Big 12 Championships. With another year to take a crack at it, Snyder believes her team has what it takes to bring the hardware home.
“It’s really exciting to be able to go in and know, ‘Hey, we really have a realistic chance at winning,’” Snyder said. “If we’re able to just take it one shot at a time this week and focus on what we can do, then we have a really good chance at putting up a good score.”
Last year’s group came close to winning the Big 12, but saw an unprecedented score from Oklahoma State University, as the Cowgirls built an insurmountable lead. Kaur, in her last year before turning pro, doesn’t expect to see an outrageous score like that again and wants to do something she’s never done in her Baylor career: win the Big 12 Championship.
“I don’t think that the scores are going to be 35-under this year or 40-under because it’s supposed to be windy and the course is harder,” Kaur said. “But I think we have a great chance. All of us are playing really well. I definitely do think we’re trending in the right direction and it would be great to finish my senior year with a win.”