Women’s Golf

O’Connor named NEC Co-Coach of the Year

By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer

Quinnipiac women’s golf is making an impression in the Northeast Conference. On Wednesday, head coach John O’Connor was named the Northeast Conference Co-Coach of the Year.

“It’s always special when people, especially other coaches notice the effort that you put into your work,” O’Connor said.

The effort is clearly there as the Bobcats improved in their second full season. Improvement is the name of the game for Quinnipiac women’s golf and all that improvement starts with O’Connor.

“This has been a remarkable year for the golf team,” O’Connor said.  “Everyone on the team worked extremely hard.”

O’Connor made it clear that his success this year is thanks not only to his golfers putting up better scores, but also for his family for putting up with a dedicated coach.

“My wife understands my passion for coaching and knows how important this is to me,” O’Connor said. “… She finds a way through all the time away from my family and time at practice, and without her support, this would be an impossible task.”

O’Connor’s love for the game is apparent, so it should come as no surprise that he works as hard as he does both on and off the course.

O’Connor has been described by his golfers as a positive and active coach. In fact, O’Connor never uses a golf cart during tournaments and instead takes every step that his golfers take.

“When we go to tournaments, other girls can’t believe that he walks the courses with us,” junior Kayla Ketcheson said proudly.

Last season, O’Connor’s squad struggled, and while the team didn’t find themselves at the top of the standings, the Bobcats are on their way.

At the NEC Championships, Quinnipiac finished ninth after three consistent days. The championships featured O’Connor’s first recruit, Hannah Russell. Russell was second on the team at the championships and will be a key for the Bobcats next season.

Next season will also feature the O’Connor’s first real recruiting class. With a pair of seniors graduating, O’Connor will look to newcomers Krissy Unger and Jenn Whaley to fill the shoes left by Amanda Nagel and Nicole Ferretti.

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Golf doesn’t budge, finishes ninth

By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer

The days change, but the overall standings never did for the Bobcats this weekend at Dayton Beach. Quinnipiac finished the NEC Championship tournament in ninth place.

“These ladies have worked harder than I ever expected and deserve a great deal of credit the way they carry themselves and represent Quinnipiac,” head coach John O’Connor said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them. Every day it seems as if they know they are setting the standard for hard work for all future women’s golfers at Quinnipiac.”

The same storyline also continued through all three days with temperatures in the mid to high 80s and with Kayla Ketcheson leading the Bobcats.

Today, Ketcheson had her best round of the weekend shooting an 80 (40-40, +8). After shooting an 82 on Friday and Saturday, Ketcheson was able to string together a bit more consistency today. Ketcheson’s round three was the first round all weekend where she did not double bogey at least one hole.

Hannah Russell once again finished second on the team, shooting an 87 (42-45, +15). Russell was the only Bobcat today with a birdie.

Nicole Ferretti continued her improvements again today shooting a weekend best 90 (46-44, +18). Today’s round is a two stroke improvement from day two and a five stroke improvement from day one.

After struggling yesterday, Jen Forlenza also shot a 90 (46-44, +18). After shooting a 99 yesterday, Forlenza improved nine strokes, including six pars.

Amanda Nagel never could hit her stride today and ended the day with a 92 (44-48, +20).

Nagel and Ferretti are the only two seniors that competed for Quinnipiac in the tournament. With just three seniors and an exciting recruiting class ready for next season, the future looks promising for more improvements.

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Second day leaves Bobcats in ninth

By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer

Through round two of the Northeast Conference Championships, Quinnipiac sits at ninth place.

The heat is still quite fierce in Daytona Beach with temperatures still in the mid-80s.

“Carrying your golf bag for four days of high pressure golf in mid to high eighty-degree weather while trying to focus on every shot is no easy task,” head coach John O’Connor said.

The Bobcats entered today’s action in ninth place and 17 strokes back of Robert Morris.

Kayla Ketcheson led the way again for the Bobcats shooting an 81 (40-41, +9). Her 81 is a one stroke improvement from day one.

Freshman Hannah Russell shot another 85 today (43-42, +13). Russell had eight pars on the day, including a string of four in six holes.

Amanda Nagel stayed consistent matching her day one score of 89 (46-43, +12). Nagel was able to pick up four pars on the afternoon.

Nicole Ferretti improved three strokes between day one and day two after shooting a 92 today (44-48, +12). Ferretti struggled on her first three holes of the day, but was able to avoid any more double bogeys after her fifth hole.

Jennifer Forlenza struggled on the second day shooting a 99 (48-51, +27) after shooting an 88 on day one.

The Bobcats’ final tee off is set for 9 a.m. tomorrow.

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Golf finishes ninth after first day of championships

By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer

Through round one of the Northeast Conference Championships, the Bobcats sit at ninth place 17 strokes back of Robert Morris and Central Connecticut, knotted up for seventh place.

After yesterday’s practice round, coach John O’Connor said that the team was as ready as they have ever been.

“[Kayla Ketcheson]’s practice round included four birdies, and it seemed effortless,” O’Connor wrote in an email Thursday night.

Ketcheson shot a team-high 82 (42-40, +10). Her strongest portion of the round came on the back nine when she shot four straight pars. Ketcheson also led the team with two birdies, both coming on the front nine.

Hannah Russell made her return today after missing the last two tournaments and finished three strokes back of Ketcheson with an 85 (43-42, +13). Russell is the only freshman competing in the NEC Championships for Quinnipiac. Russell’s lack of experience showed when she bogeyed or double bogeyed each of the last four holes. Nonetheless, something should be said for a freshman that can finish just three stokes back of the team leader.

Nagel made what O’Connor described as a “slight swing change” that has given her better yardage. Nagel, one of just two Quinnipiac golfers returning to the NEC Championships, shot an 89 (43-46, +17) today.

Jennifer Forlenza, the other returning Bobcat, finished one stroke ahead of Nagel with an 88 (44-44, +15). Forlenza’s consistent score came thanks to a pair of pars on the fifth and sixth holes of the afternoon.

Nicole Ferretti ended the day with a 95 (44-51, +23). Ferretti ran into some trouble at the end of the front nine, but did pick up a par on the sixth hole of the afternoon.

“We are constantly talking about our course management,” O’Connor said.  “Nicole is like a sponge just anxious to get better and better, and I’m confident she will put together at least on if not more very special rounds this weekend.”

Tomorrow’s tee time is also set for 9 a.m.

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Golf team ready for NEC Championships

By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer

The weather in Hamden is frightful, but the weather in Daytona Beach is absolutely delightful.

John O’Connor’s squad is used to playing in sub-par conditions, so playing in such beautiful weather will actually be a change of pace for the Quinnipiac women’s golf team when it travels to Florida this weekend for the Northeast Conference Championships.

While the last two tournaments have not gone exactly the way the Bobcats would have liked, the team is making changes for the biggest tournament of the season.

“We had a lot of putts,” O’Connor said referencing the team’s play at the Roar-EE Invitational and Hartford Invitational. “What we want to do is cut down on our three putts. Three putts are something we still encounter and it’s something that we should never see, but we still do.”

“It’s tough at this time of the year to practice putting because the greens change week to week,” O’Connor said. “The grass is starting to grow better, the greens are faster, [and] you are up against a difference situation every week.”

Ever changing conditions will certainly be a challenge this week at the LPGA International at Daytona Beach with temperatures projected to be more than 30 degrees higher than in Hamden.

“They’re walking 72 holes in four days in 80 plus degree intense heat,” O’Connor said. “Eighty-four might not seem all that hot, but it’s sun on you all the time. You’ve got to be concerned with staying hydrated.”

Yet despite the weather projections, O’Connor is pleased with how the team has improved since its last tournament back on April 17.

“I would think we should play pretty well down there,” O’Connor said.  “Our short game has improved and for the most part our putting has improved.”

As always the team will look to junior Kayla Ketcheson to lead. Ketcheson recently changed drivers after O’Connor noticed some issues with the flight of her ball earlier this season.

“She was using a driver where the loft was too high,” O’Connor said. “When we were at Brown … with the wind being so severe [and] the flight of her ball being too high cost her some distance. We now have her with a driver with a 10 ½ degree loft whereas her last driver was about a 14 degree loft.”

Joining Ketcheson this weekend will be Amanda Nagel, Nicole Ferretti, Jen Forlenza, and most notably, freshman Hannah Russell.

Russell is the Bobcats’ No. 2 golfer and will make her return this weekend after missing the last two invitationals due to an injury.

Nagel and Forlenza will provide the veteran leadership, as they are the only two golfers for Quinnipiac that participated in last year’s NEC Championship.

“We want record low rounds for everybody,” O’Connor said calmly. “This is what we’ve worked for all year long and I expect all the scores to be better than they have been.”

Being the hands on coach that O’Connor is, analysis of each day will be critical to overall tournament success.

“We will track greens in regulations, fairways hit, and number of putts and those are the three things that we will key in on this weekend.”

The tournament will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, and you can follow Live Stats at www.quinnipiacbobcats.com

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Women’s golf pulls together in second season

By Brian Farrell, QBSN Staff Writer

Anyone that’s played golf, watched golf, or simply paused for a minute and considered the logistics of hitting a tiny ball into a cup-size hole hundreds of yards away, at least understands the difficulty of the sport.

Now add in New England courses that are still thawing from the winter with grass that is barely growing. Not to mention playing on a team that returns just three golfers from an inaugural season.

Welcome to Quinnipiac women’s golf.

Head coach John O’Connor and his squad live these conditions every day.

“Our spring season is really a difficult season,” O’Connor said. “We play in extremely cold weather pretty much the entire spring season. We are playing on grass that hasn’t been growing, that certainly hasn’t been cut yet … It’s not like you see on T.V.”

This is just the second season for Quinnipiac women’s golf after being added as a Division I sport in 2010.

On the field conditions are tough enough for O’Connor’s squad, but starting up a brand new team just before the fall season is even harder.

“Well last year we started so late that recruiting was next to impossible,” O’Connor said.

But that was last season. The Bobcats returned three golfers from last year, walk-ons Amanda Nagel, Jennifer Forlenza, and Stacey Kmill and a whole new group of hard working players committed to improvement. The team welcomes a pair of freshmen, Hannah Russell and Erin Morton, transfer Kayla Ketcheson and walk on Nicole Ferretti. The team recently added Alessandra Screnci who has yet to compete this season.

The team’s steady improvement from the fall and spring stems from the experience and play of Ketcheson.

“I think she can be an all-conference golfer,” O’Connor said with confidence. “She is starting to get the feel of what it is like playing golf in the Northeast on these courses, and come conference time when we are down in Florida, I think she is going to be very strong.”

Improvement and progress are the future for Ketcheson, but for the rest of the team that time is now. Especially for O’Connor’s core group of Ketcheson, Nagel, Russell, Forlenza and Ferretti.

“The team is improving leaps and bounds,” O’Connor said. “I have five very good golfers that I am very happy with. Aside from Kayla and Hannah, the three walk-ons are very comfortable competing in Division I golf.”

With steady improvement the Bobcats are starting to hit their stride.

Last week at the Brown Invitational, the Bobcats improved 27 strokes between days one and two. Ketcheson shot a 79 to break the single-round school record of 80, a record she set back in October.

After an illness cut the Bobcats’ roster short, the team competed with just four golfers last weekend. In order for a team to score as a whole, the team must provide at least four golfers. Not to be discouraged, Ketcheson, Nagel, Ferretti, and Forlenza put on one of the best performances in the team’s short history.

“We weren’t as nervous going into the second day,” Nagel said. “We said we’ve got nothing to lose, so why not give it all you’ve got and just stay focused.”

“We definitely played as a team the second day,” Ketcheson added. “Usually you take the four of the best five scores, but since there were only four of us, they all had to count.”

But swinging the club is only a fraction of the game.

“I think our mental game was easily the best it has ever been,” Ketcheson said about the tournament. “That is something we really want to take into this weekend.”

O’Connor, Nagel, and Ketcheson all agreed that course management is one of the biggest pieces to the team’s recent improvement.

“Don’t practice the shots you are good at,” Ketcheson said calmly.

“Coach has been putting us into situations in practice like putting your ball in a divot, or put yourself behind a tree, or a low shot,” Nagel said.

With another week of practice behind them, the Bobcats are ready to continue to make forward tracks with a pair of invitationals in the next five days.  On Friday and Saturday the Bobcats will travel to Suffern, N.Y. for the Roar-EE Invitational. Then the team will head to Hartford on Monday and Tuesday for the Hartford Invitational.

Stayed tuned to theqbsn.com for increased coverage of all things Quinnipiac golf.

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