How do you approach an event observers believe you can't lose?
That's a question first-year Kent State women's golf coach Greg Robertson has addressed as carefully and delicately as possible while preparing his squad for the 2014 Mid-American Conference Championships, which will be held Friday through Sunday at The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fishers, Ind.
The Golden Flashes have won all 15 MAC tourneys since the conference added women's golf in 1998-99, including a 28-shot triumph last season, and they'll be heavily favored to make it a 16-peat this weekend. But anything can happen in the whacky world of sports, and Robertson knows that upsets are often triggered by overconfidence.
"If you start talking too much about the streak it can become a distraction," said Robertson. "I just want them to go play golf and not worry too much about anything else that goes with it, and they've done a good job of that. They all know what's going on and everything about it. You just want them to focus on golf."
A focused group of Golden Flashes will certainly be tough to beat.
Defending MAC tourney medalist Jennifer Ha leads a talented Kent State squad that's ranked 37th in the country by Golfweek. The Flashes have won three tournaments this year, and have finished in the top two in four of their last five events.
Ha earned her third individual title of the season last week at the Lady Buckeye Invitational, leading Kent State to a runner-up finish. The junior is ranked 79th in the country individually by Golfweek, and is averaging 73.79 strokes per round this season.
"She looked really good last week at Ohio State. That was good to see coming into the conference championship," said Robertson. "I've been really happy with Jennifer. She's playing with confidence."
While Ha has been a force for most of the season, the rest of the Flashes have been up and down.
"I think the one thing we've probably been lacking is a little bit of consistency, cause it has been one person (playing well) here, one person there," said Robertson. "I'm hoping some of these other players will kind of feed off (Ha's) confidence, knowing that she's playing well, and start to get a little bit of confidence in their games as well."
The rest of Kent State's lineup features sophomore Josee Doyon (75.78 stroke average), who finished third at last year's MAC Championships, along with senior Erin Hawe (75.80), junior Natalie Goodson (Hudson, 76.64) and freshman Wad Phaewchimplee (75.32).
No other MAC team can match the Flashes on paper, and they've prepared for the postseason by facing a typically rigorous schedule. But they still have to make it happen this weekend.
"The idea is to prepare like we have all year. Have a good practice around, get prepared to play the course, then just play golf," said Robertson. "If we get everybody clicking, or at least three or four of them playing well at the same time, we have a chance to do some good things this postseason. I don't think we've really hit on all cylinders yet."
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