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Excitement growing for women's golf after comeback tournament win

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Albrecht led UK in the Old Wavery Bulldog Invitational with a three-day score of 217 (+1). Albrecht led UK in the Old Wavery Bulldog Invitational with a three-day score of 217 (1-over-par).
The Kentucky women's golf team believed this could happen.  Heading to West Point, Miss., for the Old Waverly Bulldog Invitational earlier this week, the Wildcats set out to win.

That's exactly what happened.

"We know we're good," said senior Ashleigh Albrecht. "The coaches believed in us, and we're now starting to believe it. We're showing what we should be and where we need to get better. But I don't think a lot of people thought we would have opened with a win."

Albrecht is one of two seniors of the five-player team along with Heather Lott. Kentucky was led by Albrecht (1-over-par) through the three-day tournament. She's become something of a model of consistency for this team, especially one boasting two freshmen in its top five. Her steady approach has helped lead the way for her team, especially the impact freshmen.

Head coach Golda Borst says Albrecht is the exact type of player she's looking for out on the recruiting trail.

"It's very important because for the rest of the girls, they know Ashleigh always has their back," said Borst. "That's why we need more players like Ashleigh. That's what I recruit and what I look for."

What Borst has found so far had her excited about her team heading into the 2012-13 season. After what she witnessed this week, the excitement has only grown.

Her veterans stepped up and showed the way, while her talented freshmen held their own. But it didn't start out that way.

Cylia Damerau struggled mightily in her first collegiate action on Day 1 of the Old Waverly Bulldog Invitational, shooting a 79. Borst didn't worry, but she did make sure to pay extra attention to her rookie after her tough first round.

"I really didn't get into Cylia's head that first day and I just wanted to see what kind of grinder she was," said Borst. "I spent some time with her after the round. We did some chipping, we hit balls, just to kind of get her refocused and tell her it's fine. She's a great player. She needs to believe she's a great player."

The extra attention must have worked.

The second day , Borst walked around with Damerau for most of her round in an effort to comfort her and keep her loose. Borst's presence was exactly what the doctor ordered.

"The second day, just for comfort to keep her loose and have fun, I walked with her for about 11 holes," said Borst. "After her sixth hole she was like, 'Coach, if you want to go help the other girls you can.' And I told her, 'I'm enjoying myself right here, Cylia. How about you?' And she goes, 'Yeah, it's good.'"

And so was Damerau. Really good.

In Damerau's second and third rounds, she led the team in scoring, shooting team-bests 71 and 70 to give her a final three-day score of 220 (4-over-par) for the tournament, and ninth overall.

Meghan McDougall also made an impact as a freshman, finishing 34th overall with a final score of 231 (15-over-par). McDougall didn't have her best performance in this tournament, but she's another rookie who has Borst very excited about the future. Even as a freshman, McDougall possesses some of the intangibles that Borst is looking for her top players.

"Megan McDougall I have a lot of promise in," said Borst. "She's a fantastic leader and I think she's going to step up into that role. She's only going to be a sophomore next year, but I see a lot of leadership skills in her. She's got a great attitude, even though she struggled this week."

But as excited as the staff is about the future, after this weekend, everyone is excited about the present.

"As a whole, I'm really excited about this freshman class," said Borst. "I think we're going to see great things. And really the team as a whole. It's going to be a fun year because all eight players can play at any given time this year."

One player who stepped up in a huge way down the stretch was junior Liz Breed. She struggled Wednesday in her final round, but down the stretch, she came up huge with four straight birdies to help carry the Cats to victory. Her final round score of 72 helped Kentucky clinch the tournament title after trailing for most of the day.

As the Wildcats sit as tournament champions in their first competition of the fall, where do they go from there? Borst thinks this team can keep improving, though they took a huge step in the right direction. After a big few days in Mississippi, the next challenge for this team will be to see just how far the Wildcats can raise the bar.

"For me it's a great win, and now we just have to take it one tournament at a time, one round at a time," said Borst. "Just to not get ahead ourselves and stay in the present, which is extremely important in golf. Just because we did something great last week doesn't mean we can't get refocused for what's coming up."

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