Sept. 8, 2010
Despite the graduation of the program's most-decorated player, Hannah Burke, the Baylor women's golf team enters the 2010-11 season with an important element - depth. Seven of the Lady Bears' eight golfers are upperclassmen, while the eighth is an accomplished freshman at the high school level. Between its seven returning golfers, Baylor has a combined 21 rounds of NCAA postseason experience - all from the Lady Bears' NCAA Regional appearances in 2009 and 2010.
Baylor must replace two golfers who combined for 55 rounds played last season - Melanie White and Burke, the program's only three-time All-Big 12 performer. If the Lady Bears are to return to postseason play for a 10th time in the last 11 seasons, they will have to rely on their depth.
"Our goals for this season are set pretty high because we have seven returning letterwinners - four seniors and three juniors," said head coach Sylvia Ferdon, who enters her 17th season as Baylor head coach. "We have a strong group of veterans so our goals will naturally be pretty high. Even with our veterans, we are looking for our lone newcomer, Kaylin Terry, to battle her way into the lineup this fall for sure.
"It'll certainly be a challenge to replace a player like Hannah Burke," Ferdon said. "We are using our depth to our advantage with all five players in the lineup contributing.
"When you break it all down, we basically have six players for five spots in the lineup," Ferdon said. "As a coach, you love to see that. It should be very competitive."
That veteran core that Ferdon mentions is led by junior Jaclyn Jansen, who posted six top-25 finishes through 12 events during the 2009-10 season. Jansen competed in a team-high 34 rounds with nearly 90 percent of her rounds counting towards the total team score. Jansen's 76.18 stroke average last season ranked third on the team. A second-team Academic All-Big 12 selection in 2010, Jansen enjoyed a successful summer, winning the 110th Western Women's Golf Association National Amateur Championship in Rochester, Minn. Jansen followed that performance up with a berth in match play at the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.
Our goals for this season are set pretty high because we have seven returning letterwinners - four seniors and three juniors.
Sylvia Ferdon, head coach
"Jaclyn is coming off a fantastic summer, winning the Women's Western Amateur Championship which is an unbelievably huge accomplishment for her," Ferdon said. "She beat some very good collegiate players along the way."
Fellow junior Chelsey Cothran is Baylor's leading returning scorer from a year ago, carding a 76.12 stroke average through 34 rounds. Cothran's six top-25 finishes is tied with Jansen for the returning team lead. The Springdale, Ark., native qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship over the summer. Senior Lene Hafsten-Morch owns the third-lowest returning scoring average with a 76.19 through 31 rounds last season. Hafsten-Morch played for the Norwegian Elite Team all summer long.
"Chelsey (Cothran) made her way into the U.S. Pub Links and Lene (Hafsten-Morch) competed well for the Elite Team in her native Norway," Ferdon said. "Everyone picked up their game this past summer."
According to Ferdon, Jansen, Cothran and Hafsten-Morch will be vying for the Lady Bears' No. 1 spot in the lineup. The trio accounts for 99 of Baylor's 118 rounds returning from the 2009-10 team that advanced to the postseason for the ninth time in 10 seasons. In all, the Lady Bears had 13 individual top-10 finishes last season. Departed letterwinner Hannah Burke had six; Jansen, Cothran and Hafsten-Morch combined for the other seven.
"During her freshman year, Jaclyn needed the experience as expected," Ferdon said. "Last year, she was very, very valuable to our team. She's the most improved player I've ever coached, dropping her scoring average from 80 to nearly 75 in a short amount of time.
"How she stepped up and playing this past summer proved she has the talent and athleticism to compete at a high level," Ferdon said. "She has come back to school a more mature player."
Two other upperclassmen could play significant roles for the Lady Bears in 2010-11 - seniors Morgan Chambers and Jordan Rhodes. Other returning letterwinners include senior Kristen Hendrix and junior Dina O'Brien.
"Not to be lost in all this is having Morgan Chambers back and healthy for her senior year," Ferdon said. "She's been hitting the ball exceptionally well and has worked hard rehabbing to get back on the course."
As Ferdon mentioned, Chambers returns to the links for her senior season after having her 2009-10 season cut short. The Purcell, Okla., native played in all five events for the Lady Bears in fall 2009, carding a 76.60 stroke average through 13 rounds. However, a shoulder injury prior to the start of the spring season forced her to withdraw from the Lady Puerto Rico Classic and sit out the remainder of the season.
"Jaclyn (Jansen), Chelsey (Cothran) and Lene (Hafsten-Morch) will all be fighting for the No.1 spot in the lineup; that's a good thing to have," Ferdon said. "Morgan is a senior and has the experience in postseason play; she's been there before and knows what it takes."
Both Rhodes and O'Brien competed as individuals for the Lady Bears at the Baylor Spring Invitational in 2010. Rhodes, who transferred from Texas State during the 2007-08 season, was in the lineup for Baylor's 2009 NCAA West Regional appearance. O'Brien transferred from St. Edward's University in Austin during the 2008-09 season.
Hendrix, a native of Houston, Texas, hasn't made an appearance for the Lady Bears since spring 2008, battling a shoulder injury for the last two seasons.
"Jordan (Rhodes) is another senior who has been in the lineup before and she has a great game," Ferdon said. "She fought her way into the lineup as a sophomore after transferring to us from Texas State, succeeded and participated in postseason play at the 2009 NCAA West Regional."
With seven returning letterwinners, Ferdon's squad welcomes one newcomer - Austin, Texas, native Kaylin Terry. A four-year varsity letterwinner at Westlake High School, she served as the varsity team captain for two seasons. She led Westlake to the 2010 Texas 5A state title and was ranked as high as No. 16 in the Class of 2010 by AJGA Polo Golf Rankings.
"Kaylin (Terry) comes to us with great credentials," Ferdon said. "She played very well in the junior tournaments and she knows what we need her to do. She needs to see what college golf is all about."
Not only has Baylor impressed on the golf course with its ninth NCAA postseason appearance in 10 years in 2010, the Lady Bears have also been making the grades in the classroom, too. In May, the women's golf program received a public recognition award from the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program for having an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score which ranked among the top 10 percent within its sport. It marked the second straight year that Ferdon's program has been recognized by the NCAA.
The women's golf program, which registered an APR score of 1000 - the highest score a program may receive - was one of 62 nationally - and one of three Big 12 programs - to receive an APR recognition award.
"When we are out recruiting, potential student-athletes not only ask us about athletic facilities, but they ask us about our academics as well," Ferdon said. "Baylor's high-academic standard makes us strong overall both athletically and academically.
"The last two years, we've been very honored to be acknowledged for our APR score," Ferdon said. "It's quite an honor. Our players know that's as important as their golf performance. Success in the classroom has been emphasis for me and our program since day one."