No. 37 Iowa State Set For Big 12 Championships
AMES, Iowa-Under the watch of head coach Christie Martens, the Iowa State women's golf program has consistently proven to be one of the best teams in the Midwest. The 2011-12 Cyclone squad stayed on course, as the Cyclones currently rank 37th nationally (Golfstat) while competing weekly vs. the nation's top teams in the nation's toughest tournaments.
Martens' squad has all but secured their third-straight NCAA Regional berth, but the team's sights are directly focused on the 2012 Big 12 Championships, April 27-29 at the Lawrence Country Club in Lawrence, Kan.
Iowa State has placed fourth at the Big 12 Championships in each of the last two seasons, equaling its best finish since the league was formed in 1997. Martens feels her team is capable of making a jump in the standings this year.
"The past couple of weeks we have been working hard at staying mentally tough and not letting the conditions affect our play, and I think we have done a really good job with that," Martens said. "Lawrence Country Club is a traditional style course with long rough and hills, which is pretty similar to the course we just played at Ohio State. We have to get out to a good start and we need to be prepared at the beginning so you are not forced to play catch-up the rest of the tournament."
Depth is again one of Iowa State's strengths, as the Cyclones boast five golfers ranked in the nation's top-225: Prima Thammaraks (No. 149), Sasikarn On-iam (No. 176), Kristin Paulson (No. 183), Punpaka Phuntumabamrung (No. 218) and Chonlada Chayanun (No. 222). All five have stroke averages below 76.50 and own a combined nine top-10 performances.
Thammaraks, a sophomore from Bangkok, Thailand, has been the team leader this year with three top-10 finishes and a team-best 75.53 stroke average. Thammaraks, an All-Big 12 selection as a rookie a year ago, tied for 12th at last year's Big 12 Championships.
Phuntumabamrung, a junior from Bangkok, Thailand, had a slow start to the season but has responded with back-to-back top-10 finishes in her last two tournaments.
The runner-up medalist at the Lady Buckeye Invitational last weekend, Phuntumabamrung earned All-Big 12 honors after tying for seventh at the 2010 Big 12 Championships in her freshman season.
Phuntumabamrung will be competing in her third Big 12 Championships and her experience will be essential to Iowa State's success.
"Punpaka played really well and had a great finish at the Lady Buckeye Invitational," Martens said. "She was really mentally strong and I think it will give her great confidence heading into this weekend."
To learn more about Iowa State and the 2012 Big Championships, click on the photo above to watch a video of coach Martens.
Live scoring at the 2012 Big 12 Championships will be provided by Golfstat.