The Florida women's golf team will tee off its season this weekend in Daytona for the Hooters Match Play Championship with a new coach and some fresh new talent.
After 11 seasons as head coach for the Gators, Jill Briles-Hinton announced her resignation in May, but Florida was not without a coach for long. Jan Dowling was up for the challenge and named head coach in June.
Dowling left her position as an assistant coach at Duke to head up the women's golf team at UF. Her experience as a college and professional golfer will prove helpful to the young Florida team.
"We all really like her," sophomore Evan Jensen said. "She is very energetic and confident. We're all really happy with her."
Returning players, junior Jessica Yadloczky and sophomores Andrea Watts, Marika Lendl and Jensen have already played practice rounds with from freshmen Nicole Boyett, Mia Piccio, Megan Pak, Amelia Lewis and Isabelle Lendl.
"We have such a young team and there is a lot of competition within our team, so I'm really excited about the year," Jensen said.
The first qualifier of the year kept the veteran Yadloczky out of the season's first tournament.
"We had a qualifier and we have a very competitive team this year. You have got to play very well to make the lineup," Dowling said. "And unfortunately, this year we'll have some players who will stay home for a tournament or two. It's all part of the growing process, and when you face some adversity, you will get better in the long run."
Despite the competition, the women and their new coach are showing signs of coming together and growing, which will be key for a successful season.
"They [the returners] help with everything from the golf game all the way down to the academics and getting to know the school," said Dowling. "Our team has been great. They seem to get along really well. The freshmen have a lot to learn, not so much with their golf game, but with being a student-athlete at the University of Florida. It's a huge asset to have a group of upperclassmen who are willing and helpful."