Tuesday, April 13, 2010

As Wind Picks Up, So To Does Eagles' Play

The Florida Gulf Coast women’s golf team entered the 2010 Atlantic Sun Championships, squarely in the middle of the pack of the field of 10. The Eagles ranked fifth entering the week, according to both Golfstat and Golfweek. However, after posting the lowest opening round score in the history of the A-Sun Championships, the Eagles sit atop a bunched field, thanks in no small part to how the team handled the elements, in particular, the ever-freshening wind.

Venetian Bay sits roughly 10 miles off the Atlantic Ocean coastline. Across the state, the Eagles’ campus, in Fort Myers, Fla., faces breezes off the Gulf of Mexico. They often practices in conditions similar to those the competitors faced Monday.

“Our team, we’ve been qualifying in the wind, every week now, so we’re probably the most used to it out of the teams out here,” junior Katerina Toomalatai, whose even-par 72 tied for second after the first round, said. “Everybody was very confident because [the course] is a lot like a course back at home that we played twice in the last week or so, but we all like the wind and we saw on the news that it was going to keep up the rest of week”

With four players bettering the average score of the first round 78.86, the Eagles put themselves in a position where two more strong efforts could result in a title another A-Sun Championship for the Eagles. FGCU’s volleyball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball have all earned regular-season crowns in the past three years, but as the Eagles continue the four-year process of Division I reclassification, those particular programs could not compete in the A-Sun Championships. The women’s golf team gained access to the A-Sun Championships in 2009.

“We had four players really have great days on the course,” said second-year head coach Brittany Bertilson. “We have been playing in these conditions all season long. I think the wind really was not a factor for our team. To shoot a team score of 294 and be in first place – it’s a complete team effort.”

Toomalatai deciphered from her coach how the team was faring, not from the words Bertilson spoke, but in fact from her lack of communication.

“I knew [we were playing well] when Coach Bertilson didn’t say anything. She knows when we’re doing well, she just lets us stay in our own moment. I asked her on No. 17 how everyone else was doing and she said ‘we’re all doing really well, but just stay in your moment and finish the hole.’”

Despite the Eagles impressive first-round they still need “stay in the moment” or just like the wind at Venetian Bay, their fortunes could shift.

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