Leading the Irish as they prepare to step back onto the course this weekend are two familiar faces who are no stranger to the success the Irish have achieved in the last few years. Seniors Katie Conway and So-Hyun Park hope to use their experience to lead the Notre Dame team to a higher level of play this year, and they are just the people to do so.
“So-Hyun and Katie bring a wealth of experience to the team,” Irish coach Susan Holt said. “So-Hyun has played in 31 of 32 events in her career and Katie has played in 30 of 32 events in her career. Both players are ranked in the top seven in career stroke average in program history.”
Conway and Park have been challenging the Irish standards since joining the team in the fall of 2007. Conway ranked third on the team with a 76.75 average while Park became the program’s first All-American and set the Notre Dame record for a single-season stroke average at 73.63 in their rookie season. Winning the Big East that year topped off a stellar inaugural campaign for both Conway and Park.
Building upon their successes during their sophomore season, both Conway and Park began to step up and assumed leadership roles on the Irish squad in the 2009-2010 season with the help of last year’s co-captains Annie Brophy and Kristin Wetzel. Conway played in all 11 events as a junior, up from playing in only eight events her sophomore year, while Park took part in 10. Both players closed the conference season by tying for 25th at the Big East Championships with a three-round score of 246 (Conway 87-82-77 and Park 81-81-84) and their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Regional Tournament.
“They have been part of the most successful three years the program has had with three consecutive trips to the NCAA regional tournament,” Holt said. “They know what it takes to get there and we need their experience to get us past the regional tournament and into the finals.”
But Conway and Park’s success isn’t limited to the golf course. Both are exceptional students with GPAs over 3.7 in the Mendoza College of Business and have made the All-Scholar golf team each year.
“They are solid role models for their teammates both athletically and academically,” Holt said. “They are the full package of what a student-athlete should be. Both have outstanding work ethic.”
As part of that work ethic, Conway and Park are working towards leaving a legacy they’ll be proud to have been a part of, which includes winning the Big East championships and competing in the NCAA finals, a first for the Irish women’s team.
“My goal for this year is to be able to hang up my clubs at the end of the year with no regrets,” Conway said. “I want to leave it all out there on the course and know that at the end of the year, my four years here elevated the program from where it was when I started freshman year. We have a chance this year to play in some really great events and to put ourselves in a good position for postseason play. I know we can do it if we stay confident throughout the season. It would be a perfect ending to my time here. ”
“I think we have a great chance to achieve these goals this year and our teamwork has never been better especially with the two new freshmen, Nicole [Zhang] and Kristina [Nhim], who are exceptionally good and talented golfers,” Park said. “We can’t wait for our season to start.”
The Irish will begin their season this weekend at Michigan State’s Mary Fossum Invitational.