The sun is rising on a new season for the women’s golf team.
This 2012-2013 campaign will add three new faces to the already young squad. Freshmen Laura Hendee from Tampa, Fla., Christina Ocampo from Delray Beach, Fla., and Lauren Riehle from Wesley Chapel, Fla. will all begin their journeys as Hurricanes.
Head coach Patti Rizzo was optimistic before the season’s opener at the Cougar Classic in South Carolina.
“This is a good tournament to get the new girls comfortable, we really want to start off well and I know I can count on our three returning players to help the other progress,” Rizzo said.
As the freshmen practiced pitching over the bunkers, each ball rolled closer and closer to the hole, helping Riehle’s confidence grow.
“It’s been exciting to be here in Miami and prepping up to play for such a prestigious school,” she said. “I know we are a young team, but we have all the more potential to do well this year.”
Riehle has worked on several different techniques during the offseason. Having won two tournaments in the summer and fresh off her latest win at the Florida Junior Match-Play in Bonita Springs, Fla., she was preparing herself for a bright opening to the season.
“Coach has us working on our short game today, and it’s important we don’t lose composure on our approaching shots,” Riehle said.
Leticia Ras-Anderica, a sophomore from Moraira, Spain practiced her putting on the damp greens during her first hour of practice.
Patient stroke after patient stroke, Letti’s (as the team calls her) anticipation grew as each ball rolled into the cup.
“It’s important to polish your putting. If you get a good ball off the tee and play it well on the fairway you can still ruin a hole with a missed putt,” Letti said.
Letti finished top-10 three times last season and in the top five once.
“We can teach the new girls a lot, but what is most important is that they learn from each tournament; my thing is to try and finish strong on the back nine,” she said.
Another player to watch this season is Rika Park. Park, who recorded the lowest stroke total in any single round last season, hit a 69 with an average of 75.91.
“I’ve been playing since I was 9 and it’s important to remember what happened last year doesn’t matter and we have a fresh start to do better things this season,” she said.
On the other side of the driving range, Rizzo joined staff from the Biltmore Hotel that were testing the other two girls that make up the roster, Ocampo and Hendee.
“This is just to rank them and give them an idea of what areas to focus really hard on during the tournament,” Rizzo said.
As practice came to a close, Rizzo was more than excited for the upcoming tournament.
However, Rizzo wasn’t the only alumna to be optimistic about the upcoming season. University of Miami’s Tina Miller had a few things to say to pump up the young team before their opening tournament.