Women's Golf 2008-09 Season Outlook

MALIBU, Calif. -- Pepperdine women’s golf coach Laurie Gibbs may have one of the youngest teams in the country, but two of the three returning veterans have earned All-American honors and the five incoming freshmen make up what is arguably the nation’s top recruiting class, so the Waves have every reason to feel very good about the 2008-09 season.


After qualifying for the NCAA Regional Championship for the 10th straight year, the Waves missed the NCAA Championships for only the second time during that span last season. Most people believe that the Waves will be right back in the picture as a national contender this season. In the preseason polls, Pepperdine is ranked #8 by Golfweek and #17 by Golf World/NGCA. Gibbs is eager to get back to the heights of the last decade, when the Waves had seven top 10 national finishes, four top five results and a runner-up trophy in 2003.


The fall roster breaks down with one senior, two sophomores and four freshmen (in the spring a fifth freshman will be added). It’s a young group, but it’s been proven before in college golf that newcomers can excel.


The returners are senior Jayvie Agojo (Bangkal, Philippines), a 2007 Golfweek All-American honorable mention selection; sophomore Taylore Karle (Scottsdale, Ariz.), a 2008 Golfweek All-American second teamer; and sophomore Martine de Gannes (Diego Martin, Trinidad), who joined the team last spring and earned All-West Coast Conference honorable mention honors.


The acclaimed freshman class is made up of freshmen Kaitlin Drolson (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), Kiara Hayashida (Lima, Peru), Lisa McCloskey (Montgomery, Texas) and Jessica Wallace (Langley, B.C.). A fifth freshman, Ayaka Kaneko (Honolulu, Hawaii), will join the team in the spring. All five ranked among the top 50 junior players.


“I would say that in one of my first years of coaching we had a big freshman class, but certainly not at the depth that this freshman class is,” said Gibbs, the 2005 Golfweek National Coach of the Year who is now in her 16th season. “The interesting thing about this class is that they are so self-sufficient. It’s amazing how organized they are, how good their time management skills are, how they’ve come in and adjusted so well. That’s very positive. The one neat thing that I wasn’t expecting is how well they’ve meshed together.


“They’re all very open to coaching, they’re excited about what we’re doing, and hopefully that will transcend into some good scores. The freshmen understand the expectations. They know what the ultimate goal is, that we want that championship. They know we are building to that and want to be part of the process. They get it.”


With a full roster of talented players, competition to make the traveling squad will be fierce. The pressure that this year’s squad will face through their own qualifying events should end up providing a huge benefit when they are competing for real.


“They’re going to push each other and that will be ideal,” said Gibbs, who is assisted by Associate Coach Kelli Kamimura again this season. “I’ve always believed that in college golf you’re only as good as your fifth and sixth players. We have that this year. We’ve had it in the past, but there’s no question we’re deeper than we’ve ever been before.”


The Waves will play three tournaments in the fall season: at New Mexico, Stanford and UNLV. There are a total of five spring tournaments heading into the WCC and NCAA events, and one of those five will feature a home tournament.


“Our fall tournaments will be at different levels against different fields,” Gibbs said. “We’re going to go into these tournaments thinking we can win. That’s going to be important for this group. We’re excited about hosting our own tournament in the spring.”


Agojo, the lone upperclassman, won the WCC title as a freshman and is a three-time All-WCC first team honoree. She is eighth all-time at Pepperdine with a career stroke average of 75.84. She is expecting to bounce back from an up-and-down junior season.


“Jayvie has so much experience,” Gibbs said. “As a senior, she’s someone who knows what this is all about. She’s a team captain and understands the team concept. I know she’s someone we will really rely on.”


Karle is coming off one of the top freshman seasons in Pepperdine history. She ended up ranked #15 nationally by Golfstat and her scoring average of 73.37 was sixth-best in school single-season history. She led, or shared the team lead, in nine of 10 tournaments.


“Taylore was obviously the leader of the team last year and I expect the same this year,” Gibbs said. “She made some changes to her game over the summer and she feels really positive about the things she has done. She’s working very hard.”


De Gannes enrolled last January after coming from her native Trinidad and immediately contributed to the team, including earning All-WCC honorable mention honors. That experience is expected to pay dividends this year.


“Last year was a huge adjustment for Martine,” Gibbs said. “She knew that she was going to be counted on and she couldn’t ease her way in. She has worked very hard on her game and is playing really well. I expect her to play well this year.”


Among the honors held by the freshmen: Drolson was a three-time All-CIF San Diego Section honoree at Torrey Pines High School and has played in three Women’s U.S. Amateurs. Hayashida was the top-ranked amateur in Peru and won the South American Championship in 2007. Kaneko was an AJGA Rolex Junior All-American first teamer in 2007 and second teamer in 2006, and she was the runner-up at the 2007 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. McCloskey was an AJGA Rolex Junior All-American first teamer in 2006 and honorable mention in both 2005 and 2007, and won Texas state 4A titles as a junior and senior. Wallace won the B.C. Junior in 2006 and 2007 and the AJGA Thunderbird Invitational in 2008, and was a 2007 AJGA Rolex Junior All-American honorable mention.


“Kaitlin is a solid player,” Gibbs said. “She’s long, strong and tenacious. Every time I watched her while we were out recruiting she had gotten better. The more I saw Kiara play, the more I saw her do some outstanding things. In practice the last two weeks, she has been one of the leaders in our skills competition. Ayaka will come in with a lot of experience, she is an excellent player and was one of the top juniors in the country the last two years. Lisa is very talented and someone who can shoot some very low scores. She will be a big part of our success. Jessica was the first player we recruited in this class. She has won some big junior tournaments and is very consistent hitting fairways and greens.”




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