It wasn't long ago that freshmen were counted on pretty much for one thing--carrying the bags for the upperclassmen while on the road.
These days, though, rookies are having a far greater impact on the course (See: Arizona State's Louise Stahle, 2005; Duke's Amanda Blumenherst, 2006; USC's Jamie Lovemark, 2007). With that, here's a review of those who were able to hit the ground running during their first semester.
__FRESHMAN OF THE (MID)YEAR
Rickie Fowler__, Oklahoma State
After an exhaustive push last summer to become the youngest member of the 2007 U.S. Walker Cup team, then an emotional two days at Royal County Down in September that culminated in a individual 3-1 record and an overall American win, few would have blamed the soon-to-be 19-year-old if he coasted through his first fall as a Cowboy. Instead, the Murrieta, Calif., native showed his passion for the game with fourth-place finishes in his first and last starts and a victory in between at the Fighting Illini/Olympia Fields Invitational, where his second-round 63 sent a message that the Murrieta, Calif., native wasn't taking his first year in college lightly.
"He's obviously a hard-working kid who gets up every day with the attitude that I can do better," Oklahoma State men's coach Mike McGraw said. "He's always moving forward. He doesn't live in the past at all."
Fowler brings with him a few other encouraging traits. He prefers to practice by playing on the course rather than beating balls on the range, something that can help fine-tune his creativity and shot-making. Moreover, he carries himself with just the right amount of confidence to be dangerous, in the best sense of the word. "He plays aggressively," McGraw noted. "I think that rubs off on the team a little bit. I hope it does. Everybody kind of takes the foot off the break, hopefully."
Honorable mention: Harris English, Georgia
So-Hyun Park__, Notre Dame
To expect anyone to have a win, two runner-up finishes and no worse than a T-7 performance in their first five tournaments would be setting the bar pretty high. Nevertheless, Fighting Irish coach Susan Holt contends she really wasn't surprised at Park's impressive debut. Having attended the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Fla., as a high schooler allowed for the transition to college life--i.e. being away from home, juggling academics and athletics, etc.--to come a bit easier for the South Korean native. "I don't think she had as much adjusting to do as some freshman," said Holt.
So it was that Park could give her game more attention than might otherwise have been the case. Suffice it to say, her strong work ethic has rubbed off on her teammates, explaining in part Notre Dame's collective competitiveness this fall (three team wins, No. 20 ranking).
"She's committed to getting better, and I just thing that motivated the rest of the team," Holt says. "The upperclassmen are like, 'We love our freshmen.' They really embraced that."
Honorable mention: Maria Jose Uribe, UCLA
Hasn't disappointed since winning the U.S. Women's Amateur title in August, sharing medalist honors at the Kent Youel Invitational while sporting a 72.25 stroke average.
Golf World* Mid-season All-Freshmen team
Johan Carlsson, San Diego State
71.73 avg. in four starts; two top-fives and no finish worse than T-12
Harris English, Georgia
70.78 avg. in three starts; two wins (Isleworth-UCF, Brickyard Collegiate)
Rhys Enoch, East Tennessee State
71.08 avg. in four starts; three top-seven finishes
Rickie Fowler, Oklahoma State
69.89 avg. in three starts; one win (Fighting Illini/Olympia Fields) and two fourths
Kevin O'Connell, North Carolina
70.08 avg. in four starts; three top-10s and no finish worse than T-15
Andrew Putnam, Pepperdine
71.17 avg. in two starts; second at Club Glove, T-3 at Turtle Bay
Cydney Clanton, Auburn
72.07 avg. in five starts; three top-fives including playoff loss at Mercedes-Benz
Calle Nielson, Virginia
73.22 avg. in three starts; two top-10 finishes and no finish worse than T-20
So-Hyun Park, Notre Dame
72.53 avg. in five starts; one win (Napa River Grill), two seconds
Maria Jose Uribe, UCLA
72.25 avg. in four starts; one win (Kent Youel), three top-10s, worst finish: T-16
Jessica Yadloczky, Florida
73.42 avg. in four starts; two top-10 finishes and no finish worse than T-18
Glory Yang, UCLA
72.92 avg. in four starts; three top-13 finishes and no finish worse than 19th
FINAL MID-SEASON AWARD:
Player of the (Mid)Year and the Mid-Season All-American teams