Freshman leads golf team to 6th place finish

Jonathan Lowe

Over the past two years, one thing has remained a constant on the ISU women’s golf team: A freshman golfer stepped up each season and played at a high level.

That may be the case again this season, as first-year Cyclone Louise Kenney led the Cardinal and Gold with a top ten finish at the Highlands Ranch Tournament outside of Denver, Colo.

In only her second tournament as a collegiate golfer, Kenney shot 150 to finish in a tie for ninth place.

Head coach Julie Manning attributed Kenney’s success this week to her ability to control her shots around the greens.

“She probably has one of the best short games I’ve ever seen [since I began coaching] at Iowa State,” she said.

Leanne Owens completed the invitational with a two-round total of 155 to tie for 30th position.

She finished one stroke ahead of sophomore Lisa Meshke, who made her first appearence of this season.

Meshke tied for 34th, one shot ahead of teammates Sarah Gilbert and Laura Wells. Gilbert shared the team lead with Kenney after round one, but faded on day two to end with a 157.

“It was just one of those things where I played bad and couldn’t recover [in the second round],” Gilbert said.

Overall, the Cyclones were sixth in the standings at 614, just eight shots out of a top three finish. The ISU squad shot 305 during the second 18-holes, which was the second lowest score of the round.

“If we can have a 305 be a `ho-hum’ score, then we can be in every tournament,” Manning said.

Following the efforts of Wells in 1998-1999 and Meshke last season, Kenney has traveled to the Cyclones’ first two tournaments this year.

If her play continues on the level of her two predecessors, Kenney could have some good results awaiting her.

“It took a little while to get her settled in, [but] I think Louise is making a nice transistion [to college],” Manning said.

Kenney’s teammates have been impressed by more than her performance on the course.

“She’s a great addition to the team,” Gilbert said. “She has a good attitude about everything.”

A native of Blooming Prairie, Minn., Meshke played in her first tournament since having surgery on her back this past spring.

“This was probably the best tournament for her to play, because she didn’t have to play 36 holes [in one day],” Gilbert said. “I know she was hurting a little bit.”

The Cyclones will now prepare for the Big 12 Fall Preview next week in Stillwater, Okla. With two tournaments under their belts, Manning likes where her team stands.

“I feel really good with the steps we’re taking,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to progress at the pace we are.”

Even though Manning looks to this tournament as one that will tell her how far along her team has come, she doesn’t want to make her players tense.

“I’m not going to put any goals in front of this team,” she said. “I’m just [going to] try to keep as much pressure off of them as possible.”