Priding itself in a team motto of being better, the women's golf team carries its cohesive energy from the locker room onto the golf course. Its players are sometimes seen making "R" signs with their bodies at tournaments to celebrate a fellow Spider's birdie.
The "R" system helps the team acknowledge when its team members are playing well, said sophomore Christina Gray, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week.
The motto this year is to be better -- "better than last year, last month, last week, yesterday" -- women's golf coach Leighann Albaugh said.
With three top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes during eight of the nine 2008-09 tournaments played so far, Albaugh said she was pleased with her team's performance.
The women played their final tournament of the regular season, the Eastern Kentucky Lady Colonel Invitational in Richmond, Ky., on April 11 and 12. They will travel to the CAA Championship tournament, at Callaway Gardens Resort in Pine Mountain, Ga., on April 17, 18 and 19.
Members of the team said they were hoping to use the EKU tournament to their advantage because the style and layout of the golf course was similar to the conference championship course, Albaugh said. Except for junior Lauren Folgosa, who lives in Georgia, none of the Spiders is familiar with the conference course.
Gray's past performances have helped the Spiders' overall positioning at several tournaments. During the Hoya Invitational on March 31, Gray's tie for ninth place, a second-straight top-10 finish, which was the third of her season, helped the Spiders finish seventh overall.
Gray, who broke a school record at the Towson Invitational earlier during the season when she shot a 69 on Sept. 8, 2008, said she was excited about her current level of play.
"I have played my best golf this season," she said.
Although Gray's performance will be an influential part of the team's success during the coming CAA tournament, she does not stand alone. Albaugh stressed the importance of a team effort, saying it took all five players for the team to have success.
"We have a stacked team with unlimited talent," Gray said.
The team thrives on its ability to encourage one another. Gray said that the team's closeness away from the course had allowed the team to play well and as a unit, even though golf is an individual game.
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"We have taken a great jump this year," she said.
Albaugh said that selecting the top five Spiders from the eight active members on the roster would be a tough decision, but that she would look at their games academically, athletically and interpersonally.
The 10 teams attending the tournament are three associate members from the A-10 -- Xavier University, the University of Dayton and Richmond -- and seven from the CAA, Albaugh said.
Albaugh said she felt the team's toughest competitor in the tournament would be Georgia State University, who has the lowest team scoring average and the best golf statistics ranking of any team in the CAA.
Despite the tough competition, Gray seemed confident about the Spiders' ability to bring home a trophy and put the Spiders back on the map.
"We have been playing and practicing well," she said.
In preparation for the tournament, Albaugh said she would emphasize playing from unlevel lies in practice and becoming accustomed to a fairly hilly and tight golf course. Albaugh said she would compare playing practice rounds to studying for a test.
"One needs to pay attention and take notes on the placement of hazards," she said, "make a game plan for how to play the hole and take notes on the slopes of the greens."
Contact reporter Dani Pycroft at email@example.com
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