The Collegian
Friday, April 19, 2024

Sophomore golfer leads team at both of its tournaments

Christina Gray, '11
Christina Gray, '11

Collegian Reporter

A student who did not compete in tournaments a year ago shot the lowest score in University of Richmond women's golf history at the Towson Women's Invitational in Maryland earlier this month.

The Richmond women's golf team placed second and sophomore Christina Gray was the individual runner-up with a score of 69 -- a score she was shocked to hear about, she said.

Gray didn't know how well she was doing until the 16th hole, she said. "My nerves were taking over."

She ended up bogeying the 16th hole and parring the last two holes.

"I think my heart was out of my chest at the end," she said.

Gray has been playing golf for eight years, since she was 11 years old. Nobody in her family plays golf, but she started playing because she wanted to try something new.

She started taking lessons at The First Tee of Tampa in Florida, and ended up winning the first tournament she played in.

"None of my counselors or instructors believed it was my first time playing," she said.

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In high school, Gray played golf all four years, and she was team captain her junior and senior years. She knew she wanted to play in college, but didn't know about Richmond until she met coach Leighann Albaugh at an American Junior Golf Association tournament in Midlothian, Va., she said.

Her time playing with the team has been really positive so far because she loves the sport and loves her teammates, she said.

This season is going a lot better than last season because the team practices more and the players are more experienced, captain Lauren Folgosa said.

"We have more focus as a team, more intense practices," she said. "We work out this year and everyone is more concentrated and focused on playing better."

Gray agreed. Her freshman year first semester was a particularly rough time for her, Gray said. She was more focused on academics than golf and didn't qualify for any travel tournaments, she said.

But during the spring season of 2008, she traveled to all of them. During the summer, she practiced almost everyday while she was working at The First Tee, where she decided to teach in order to give back to the place where she learned the sport she loves, she said.

Gray came back after practicing over the summer with a great mindset and a lot of focus and it's been showing, Folgosa said.

"She's been consistently playing well for these last two tournaments and all I see is her getting better and better and building the confidence that she needs to continue that success."

The rest of the team wants to keep up with Gray, junior Anne Sprick said.

"We all want to keep up with the number one player on the team," she said. "I think I've been playing a lot better because she's been playing a lot better."

Gray has two main goals for the rest of this year, she said. The first is to qualify for every tournament and the second is to be in either the top half of the field or less than the top half of the field in every tournament, she said. But she wants to set realistic goals for herself, so it depends on each tournament, she said.

Her long-term goal is to play golf professionally, she said.

"I don't know of anything else I want to do," she said. "I would eat, sleep and drink golf if I could."

Folgosa said this year's team was very cohesive and did a lot of things together. Team members practice in the morning or afternoon, so not everyone is together during practices, but the team works out together Tuesday nights and Thursday mornings and has team dinners.

"It definitely helps when we can cheer each other on and be happy for each other's successes even if we don't play well that day," Folgosa said.

"And that's a big thing -- to know you have other girls backing you even when you don't play very well."

Albaugh has been great about setting team goals, Folgosa said.

"She's good about structuring our practice around our weaknesses," she said. For instance, during the first couple days of the Charleston tournament, the team wasn't putting well, so after it played, its practices were focused on putting drills, she said.

In addition, if they don't shoot below 320 at a tournament, the entire team must run up and down the steps at the Robins Center the following morning around six, Gray said.

"I like my sleep, so I think about it when I'm playing," she said.

Sprick said that this punishment actually didn't affect her that much.

"I'd rather score low for the sake of scoring low," she said.

Albaugh has also implemented a system called gear of merit, in which the women receive gifts such as shirts and hats if they shoot below a certain score, Sprick said.

The team members realize that if they all perform well, there will be good results for everyone, she said.

Folgosa believes this is possible and that it's just a matter of playing well on the same days, she said.

"Our problem has always been, everyone is a great player but people will bring their game on different days," Folgosa said.

"I want to see us finally get our games together the same days at the same time and shoot the low numbers I know we can."

As a captain, Folgosa is the one that the girls will come to when they have a problem or if they feel uncomfortable first going to the coach to talk about something, she said.

"Being captain isn't about being the best player, it's about being a good team player. It's about being able to be happy for peoples' successes even when I don't play well. It's about being able to talk girls through problems even if I'm having the same problems," she said.

Richmond has played two tournaments so far. The College of Charleston's Cougar Classic was the players' hardest field because they played schools such as the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee and the University of Virginia, Folgosa said.

The team played well, but did not perform as well as it had at the Towson Tournament, she said. Richmond finished in 22nd at the Cougar Classic with a 942. The team shot a 310 in the first round, 315 in the second, and 317 in the third.

Junior Victoria Kidder placed 112th in the tournament. Sophomore Jillian Fraccola tied for 104th at 246, Folgosa placed 98th at 240 and junior Anne Sprick placed 93rd at 238.

At Towson, Richmond shot 321 in the first round and 305 in the second round, the lowest team round of the tournament. Folgosa tied for 14th with a score of 161, Sprick tied for 21st by shooting 164, and senior Rosario Germino tied for 24th, shooting 161.

Contact staff writer Taylor Engelson at

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