April 30, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla –
Florida State University senior Louise Wright picked the perfect time to begin playing the best golf of her collegiate career. Wright helped lead the Seminoles to a third place finish at last month’s ACC Championship and is currently averaging a career-best 75.00 strokes per round this spring. She leads the team with three rounds of par or better and she has carded five of her last nine rounds at one-over par 73 or below.
Wright’s teammates are thankful she has chosen the final month of her career to bolster her play. The Seminoles received a bid to play in the NCAA Regional in Chapel Hill, N.C., and begin play May 10 at the Finley Golf Course. It marks the first time Florida State has earned a chance to play for the NCAA Championship since 1997. In order to advance to the Division I championship finals in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., the Seminoles must finish as one of the top eight teams at next week’s regional tournament which includes 21 participating teams.
“I think all of my hard work is finally paying off,” the affable senior said. “There is less pressure on me because I have graduated and have decided that golf is what I want to do for a living. If this is how I am going to attempt to make my living, I had start playing better.”
And the Ipswich, England native is playing better.
Her spring 2001 stroke average entering the NCAA regional tournament is more than three strokes better than her average during the first three years of her collegiate career. In 76 rounds during 27 tournaments entering the spring season, Wright posted an average of 78.06 strokes per round. She had finished in the top 10 five times and has carded only two rounds of par or better.
In 12 rounds during four tournaments this spring, she has posted a career-best 75.00 strokes per round average, finished second at the Ryder/Florida Women’s Collegiate Championship and has carded three rounds of par or better. She completed the best round of her career, a three-under par 69 in the second round of the Ryder Championship.
“It was two years ago that I really decided I was going to turn pro and this year I realized within myself that I knew I could really do it,” she said. “Shooting 69 at the Ryder was nice because I was four under after 17 and bogied the last hole to finish at 69. I knew at the end of the round I could have been even more under. I’m hitting the ball so much better now than I have before during my career.”
During her round of 69, Wright recalls that she hit every green, birdied two holes on the front nine and three on the back nine before three-putting the 18th hole. It marked the first time during her career that she had hit every green during a single round.
“It wasn’t a great finish, but I was happy with a 69,” she said. “It felt great to me because I had never been able to break 70 before. It was great to be at 68 on the last hole, and know even if I bogied I would finish at 69.
Wright shot a one-under par 215 for the 54-hole tournament and finished in second place, matching the highest finish of her collegiate career. Her finish at the event allowed her to climb to a personal-best individual national ranking of 74th. In helping the Seminoles to a sixth-place team finish at the Ryder/Florida Championship, she finished ahead of two of the top-50 ranked golfers in the nation. For the season, Wright has finished ahead of 22 top-50 golfers and eight who have been ranked in the top 25.
Wright became a fixture in Florida State’s starting lineup upon her arrival in Tallahassee as a freshman. She competed in two tournaments during the fall 1997 season and was the only freshman to play for the Seminoles during the spring 1998 season. She blossomed during her junior season, earning a second-place individual finish at the Bryan National Collegiate and a third-place individual finish at the Lady Seminole Invitational. Wright earned a career-high three top-10 finishes during her junior season.
“The difference for Louise, and one reason her game has improved, is the increase in her level of maturity,” said head coach Debbie Dillman. “She has displayed her maturity on the course and in her game. She is all business when she steps onto the golf course.
“For Louise to play as well as she has played while not being 100 percent physically is amazing,” Dillman continued. “She is much tougher than most people give her credit for. She has played through a lot of pain during her career.”
When her collegiate career is through, she will fondly remember her days in Tallahassee and plans to make it her permanent home. She earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing, finance and multinational business during graduation ceremonies at Florida State on April 28. She has earned Coaches’ Association All-American honors twice (as a sophomore and junior) and is a strong candidate to earn the honors a third time again this season.
“Florida State University has prepared me to be able to reach for my dreams partly because I have grown so much as an individual,” she says. “I know that I am much more mature now than when I first arrived as a freshman. I know that I have an extended family here that I can always come back to and that is very important to me. I am going to make Tallahassee my home because everyone I know is here. I know that people are going to be pulling for me and that is a very comforting feeling.”
In addition to achieving many of her goals while at Florida State, Wright attributes much of her personal and professional growth to Dillman.
“Coach Dillman has helped me in so many ways,” she said. “She has helped me mentally get around the golf course. She has taught me to play the golf course rather then be so tough on myself after every shot. I feel better mentally, because I know that I can make shots. Coach Dillman has also helped me become a better team player because I had never played on a team before I arrived at Florida State.”
“Florida State University, the golf team and Coach Dillman are so much more than I ever expected,” said Wright. “The opportunities that are open to me here and the life that I lead here is incredible.”
by Chuck Walsh
Florida State Sports Information