In 2008, UNLV’s women’s golf team overcame a slow start and made the NCAA championships.
This year, coach Missy Ringler is hoping her team does things the easy way and eliminates the drama.
“If we can start fast, it’ll show we belong with the best,” Ringler said. “Last year, we had to scramble to get to nationals. Hopefully, we’ll play well from the beginning and not make things as hard on ourselves.”
UNLV will open its spring season Sunday in the 18-team Wildcat Invitational at the par-72, 7,210-yard Peninsula Golf Club in Sonora, Mexico. Nine of the teams in the 54-hole event are ranked in the Golfweek women’s top 25, led by No. 1 Arizona State, No. 2 Southern California and No. 3 UCLA.
“We’ll definitely know where we stand right away,” Ringler said. “If we play well, it will really help our overall confidence.”
UNLV, ranked No. 38, returns five players who played regularly last year, led by sophomore Therese Koelbaek, the Mountain West Conference’s Freshman of the Year. She is No. 25 in the Golfweek individual rankings.
“She’s going to have a great spring,” Ringler said. “She really came back strong this fall, and she’s really focused.”
Ringler is looking for big things from junior Natasha Krishna, who played well during the fall season.
“If she realized how good she could be, it’s scary,” Ringler said. ”She just has to trust herself and concentrate on the small things that make good players great.”
Of her newcomers, Ringler said Kristen Schelling is capable of excelling. The freshman from Mesa, Ariz., was in UNLV’s top five throughout the fall season, and Ringler expects Schelling’s development to continue.
“She’s a fierce competitor,” Ringler said. “She’s a very good ball striker, and she’s what I would call a ‘golf rat.’ She’s always working on her game, always trying to get better.”
Ringler said this team probably is her deepest in her seven years at UNLV. That depth might come into play come May when the Rebels, New Mexico, Texas Christian and Brigham Young figure to battle for the league title at the conference championships at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Course at Fort Ord in Monterey, Calif.
“We have the talent to be there and get back to the nationals,” Ringler said. “We learned a lot about ourselves last year, and this year’s group is stronger.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.