Sept. 10, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 20 Michigan State women's golf team opens up the 2009-10 season when it hosts the 26th annual Mary Fossum Invitational this Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 12-13) at the par 72, 6,237-yard Forest Akers West Golf Course on the campus of MSU. The Spartans have won their home tournament four straight years, with victories in the 2005, 2007 and 2008 Mary Fossum Invitationals and the 2006 Lady Northern Invitational. Overall, MSU has won its home tournament five out of the last six years.
"The Mary Fossum Invitational is such a special event for us," said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. "Not only is it our only home tournament of the year, and we hope people come out and support us, but we also get to showcase Mary Fossum, who is a very special part of the Spartan family. We love that Mary is a part of our tournament and can hand out the trophies on Sunday. We also get to showcase Forest Akers West, which is our home course and we're very proud of it."
The 2009 Fossum Invitational features a field of 17 teams: Eastern Michigan, Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Indiana, Iowa, James Madison, Kentucky, Michigan, MSU, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Oakland, Ohio, Purdue, Toledo and Western Michigan. Live scoring for the tournament will be available at www.golfstat.com.
The Spartans return all five starters to a lineup that had the second-best finish in program history at the 2009 NCAA Championships by tying for 13th. MSU is ranked No. 20 in the Golfweek preseason rankings.
"In 15 years of coaching and five years competing myself in this program, I have never seen depth (in the lineup) that is this deep," said Slobodnik-Stoll. "I can honestly tell you right now we have eight players capable of playing in these five spots, so it's going to be an exciting year."
Laura Kueny, who enters her senior year with the best career scoring average in school history at 74.90, leads the way for Michigan State. Kueny was named a second-team All-American by Golfweek last season after shooting for a 74.50 average, the third best in MSU single-season history. The second-team preseason All-American tied for second at last year's Fossum Invitational and shot a tournament-record 214 to win medalist honors at the 2007 tournament.
After a competitive round of qualifying this week, the rest of the starting lineup for the Spartans will feature juniors Aimee Neff and Natalie Brehm, sophomore Shannon Warner and true freshman Caroline Powers.
Neff is coming off a strong summer season in which she won both the Indiana and Illinois Opens. The Carmel, Ind., native earned second-team All-Big Ten honors for the second straight year as a sophomore and was third on the team with a 77.22 average.
Brehm also had a successful summer, finishing runner-up at the Michigan Women's Amateur Championship and qualifying for the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.
Warner started in five tournaments as a true freshman last season, including a career-high eighth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Powers is a heralded freshman from Bowling Green, Ohio, who claimed the Big "I" National Championship over the summer in Ardmore, Okla.
ABOUT MARY FOSSUM
Mary Fossum was the first and only head coach in the history of Spartan women's golf prior to 1997, coaching from 1973 until her retirement. For 17 of those years, Fossum was part of a unique coaching pair as her husband, Bruce, coached the MSU men's team for 25 seasons before his retirement in 1989.
Under Fossum's guidance, the Spartans won an unprecedented five straight Big Ten titles from 1974-78 and played in six consecutive AIAW National Championships (1973-78). The Spartans regained the conference crown in 1982 and played in the 1982 and 1984 NCAA Championships. MSU claimed its third conference runner-up spot under Fossum at the 1987 Big Ten Championship.
Those accomplishments led to recognition of Fossum as one of the country's best collegiate golf coaches. She was honored as the first-ever NCAA Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 1984 and was inducted into the Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 1988.
In 1999, Michigan State's annual fall women's golf tournament was renamed the Mary Fossum Invitational. In January of 1998, Fossum was honored by the College Golf Foundation with the Rolex/Gladys Palmer Meritorious Service Award for outstanding service and contributions to collegiate women's golf. She was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2003. In 2007, the Big Ten named its award for the women's golfer with the lowest stroke-average to par in a season the Mary Fossum Award.
A native of Green Bay, Wis., Fossum won the Wisconsin women's golf championship in 1945, 1946 and 1947. One of the many highlights of her career was her match-play victory over Mildred (Babe) Didrikson-Zaharias in the 1946 Women's Western Amateur semifinals. Fossum was inducted in 1990 into the Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame, making her only the fifth woman to achieve that distinction.
Fossum also was involved at the national level, serving as a member of the NCAA golf committee which guides the national development and administration of women's collegiate golf.