Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Future NKU teammates at top on first day

No. Ky. Women's Am

By Colleen Kane
Enquirer staff writer

If all goes according to plan, Alicia Lawrence and Michelle Bellish will play together as rookies for the Northern Kentucky University women's golf team next season. On Monday at their home course of Eagle Creek, they gave their new coach a glimpse of the future.

Lawrence shot a 1-over 72 to lead the 64-player field in the first day of qualifying for the Northern Kentucky Women's Amateur. Bellish finished the day in second by shooting a 74. Their success came in front of their future NKU golf coach Daryl Landrum, who is also the Director of Golf Operations at Eagle Creek.

The pair beat out two-time champion Diana Camacho and three-time champion Laura Schild, who both shot 75s to tie for third Monday. Another 18-hole qualifying round will be played today to determine eight-person flights for Wednesday's match play. The winner will be determined by a four-person round of stroke play Thursday.

It is the first Amateur for Lawrence, a recent graduate of Williamstown High School and an employee at the Eagle Creek pro shop. In the past, she has played a different tournament on the Gatorade Advanced Player Tour but said the events are played on different dates this year. She was nervous in her Amateur debut, so much so that she was still shaking as she signed her scorecard at the end of the day, she said.

"Mentally today I was racked," Lawrence said. "I was so freaked out, and I don't know why. I was mostly scared that I would flub up and make a fool of myself on my home course."

Bellish, a 1993 graduate of Ohio State, said she was also nervous. She has played in the Amateur five times now, but has never played on a competitive golf team. As a member at Eagle Creek, Landrum urged her to go back to school and try NKU, but Bellish, a stay-at-home mom, said she wasn't ready. Now that her daughter is 5, she plans to register for classes to get her Master's degree in the next few weeks. She'll have one year of eligibility.

"Daryl's been asking me for three years now to play on the team, but I always said, 'It's not the right time, it's not the right time,' " Bellish said. "Now is a good time to go back . . . It's going to be a lot of fun."

Landrum said Bellish will bring maturity and the "outgoing" Lawrence will bring leadership to his Norse squad, which includes standout Kim Keyer-Scott.

"(Never competing) might be a little problem when (Bellish) first starts because of nerves," Landrum said. "But once she relaxes and realizes she belongs there, she'll be really good, she and Alicia."


E-mail ckane@enquirer.com

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