FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – It's back to the grind for the Northern Arizona University golf team, as the Lumberjacks will hit the links for their second tournament of the week at the Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate this Saturday and Sunday.
The University of Wyoming will play host to this weekend's tournament on The Classic Club Golf Course in beautiful Palm Desert, Calif. The course plays 18 holes at a par 72 on 6,112 yards of green.
Seven NAU golfers will make their way to Palm Desert seeking to follow up an impressive third-place performance at this event in 2015. The improvement has been palpable so far this fall, as the Lumberjacks cut a full 18 shots off their team score from Hobble Creek to Rose City.
"We talked about the quick turnaround, so we gave our golfers the day off Wednesday and we're going to have a short, two-hour practice today," said Head Coach Brad Bedortha yesterday. "Hopefully, that will give them time to relax, get organized and prepare for another competitive tournament this weekend."
Part of that progression has been the addition of sophomore Sofia Anokhina back to the NAU lineup. Out for the first tournament because of a chance to compete for Russia at the World Amateur Team Championships, Anokhina tied for 13th place earlier this week at the Rose City Collegiate (6-over-par 222).
"First and foremost, her personality is just infectious. She's just someone people want to be around," said Bedortha, talking about Anokhina. "From a golfing standpoint, she's obviously really good. The other players have confidence that [Anokhina] is going to go out and shoot a pretty good score most days. It loosens the rest of the team up, for sure."
Senior Kim Cifuentes also came on strong during the third round from Aurora, Ore., last Tuesday, registering a Lumberjack-best even-par 72 score. The Lumberjacks are hoping she can keep this momentum rolling for the rest of the fall.
"I'm just looking for Kim to be Kim," said Bedortha. "She's very good about going out there and working her butt off and setting a good example for everyone else. Regardless of her play, she always keeps a great attitude."
Juniors Kaitlyn Saum and Sierra Bezdicek—who have also been very good for the 'Jacks through two tournaments this fall—will also compete this weekend, while junior Carly Akine and freshmen Loren Skibba and Emma Reyes will participate as unattached individuals.
The two-day, three-round intercollegiate will begin at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning with a shotgun start. The 11 team field will proceed to play the first 36 holes, followed by the final 18 Sunday with another 7:30 a.m. shotgun start.