April 19, 2010
William Inman, 404-413-1355
During a recent practice leading up to the Colonial Athletic Association Championship, junior Sandra Maier had just blasted a long and straight tee shot down the fairway of the par 5, 7th hole at Druid Hills Golf Club, when head coach Cathy Mant joked that the native of Grossbottwar, Germany, who was nursing a tight hamstring, should play injured all the time.
The joke was lost in translation on Maier and her teammates, who looked at each other in bewilderment.
"I forget there's a language barrier sometimes," Mant chuckled.
While some of Georgia State's women's golf team may have a hard time picking up the nuances of the English language, they have no such problem on the golf course.
This past weekend, the Panthers successfully defended their 2009 CAA Championship and captured the 2010 title on the 6,002 yard, par 72 Old Course at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.
Led by medalist Charlotte Lorentzen, a sophomore from Soroe, Denmark, the women won the event by nine strokes and earned an automatic berth to an NCAA Regional with the win. The Panthers' victory is their third all-time at the CAA Championship and is the sixth conference championship in school history.
Lorentzen shot a tournament-best 69 on Sunday and won the event by a whopping 10 shots. Perhaps even more impressive was Lorentzen's performance the day before when she shot a 73 in what Mant described as almost unplayable weather.
"We played in horrendous winds," Mant said. "Given the conditions [on Saturday], for her to shoot a 73 was amazing. No one was even close to her."
Lorentzen became the third Panther in school history to earn medalist honors at the CAA Championship, the last being teammate and fellow Dane, senior Cathrine Madsen. Her victory marks the sixth time a Georgia State golfer has picked up a victory at a conference championship.
"It was one of my goals this year to get a win," Lorentzen said. "This was one of the last tournaments to do it so I'm really excited about it, it was nice."
With their title defense, Mant's team of internationals became the first program in Georgia State athletics history to repeat as CAA champions since the men's golf team went back-to-back in 2005 and 2006.
The fact that her team is comprised of players from other countries is by design, Mant says, and, despite their points of origin - which range from South Africa to Denmark - this team is uniquely suited for their success on the golf course and at Georgia State.
In the competitive world of recruiting, Mant often targets players from other countries.
"These kids are used to life in the big city, and we use Atlanta and Georgia State's setting as an urban school as a selling-point," she said.
Many of her players also have big-time experience playing in their home countries' championship events. Madsen, for example, was part of the European Championship team in 2005 and 2006, and finished third in the Danish Lady Invitational Championship in 2005.
Also, Mant explained, for many of her players, coming to the States offers them the opportunity to play competitive golf while they continue their education.
"In many countries, when you finish high school, you either turn pro, or you go to a university to study," she said.
Mant, who played for 10 years on the LPGA Tour and became GSU's first-ever full-time women's golf coach in 2000, has directed other foreign-born players to lofty heights in the collegiate ranks. Lisbeth Meincke, from Rungsted, Denmark, won four straight conference individual titles, and was the conference player of the year in 2005 and 2006. Mant also helped Joanna Klatten, from Paris, France, become GSU's first women's golfer to qualify and compete in the NCAA National Championship in 2006.
On her current roster, she boasts a CAA Golfer of the Year in South African Iliska Verwey (2007 - '08), and two conference championship medalists in Lorentzen and Madsen.
While she admits that she doesn't speak "a lick" of any language other than English, Mant says that, despite the occasional comic faux pas, there are seldom any hang ups in communication. They're all English speakers, she said, and, of course, they're all fluent in the game of golf.
During the tournament, on that windy and cold Saturday, Mant said the team took a moment to huddle up before they teed off.
"We all came together and talked about it… how every shot was important given the conditions," Mant said. "And then their talent just came through. They played very, very well and I'm extremely proud of them."