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Erin Harper Keeping Her Eye on the Target for IU Women’s Golf

Erin Harper lines up a putt during a round at the IU Golf Course. (Josh Eastern/HN)

If you’re listening to IU women’s golf coach Clint Wallman coach his team, you might hear a bevy of sayings.

‘What’s my target’ is a popular one amongst the team, and one he uses quite often. For IU junior golfer Erin Harper, her target has been the NCAA Championships. After qualifying out of the Madison, Wisconsin Regional as an individual, she has been able to square in on her target.

“It helps us figure out where we want to go,” Harper said. “I use that one and ‘keep giving yourself chances.’ If you give yourself a chance, one of these times you’ll be able to pull through, like I did.”

And pull through she did. In 1989, a gallon of gas was 97 cents, Paula Abdul, Billy Joel, Madonna and Janet Jackson had songs at the top of the Billboard charts, and George H. W. Bush became the 41st President of the United States.

That same year, 29 years ago, was also the last time Indiana had a women’s golfer qualify for the NCAA Championships. That drought has officially come to a close. When Harper tees off Friday at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the Hoosiers will finally be represented again.

“I was very excited, but also in that moment it was a huge sigh of relief because the last day wasn’t going how I wanted it to,” Harper said. “I was scrambling a lot trying to make up and downs so it was a relief to find out that the round was over and I was still able to make it. I’m just glad I didn’t put myself out of it in the first two rounds.”

The IU program has been on the doorstep of the NCAA Championships. A few years back, the Hoosiers qualified as a team for a NCAA Regional, but couldn’t make the next step.

Harper battled tough conditions and said her nerves were high going into the final round. Wallman also said she had a lot of adrenaline going and hit her irons a little longer than normal. Still, her coach likes her game on the big stage and said her game is made for the bigger tournaments.

“The emphasis when you get to these high profile events, is you have to be a really good ball striker and that is the key to her game,” Wallman said. “I didn’t think this would be outside of her wheelhouse. I thought it’d be, at worst, how she would manage herself. That was the biggest thing I felt as a challenge.”

Wallman said the main message to Harper has been to just be herself. The competition will be ratcheted up come the weekend and he wants her to not do anything outside of the ordinary.

As for Harper, she will continue to play her game. She said she had to scramble a bit more than she wanted to on the last day, but feels comfortable enough with her short game to do so.

While she is competing as an individual, her teammates are behind her as she represents Indiana at the top level.

“I think we’re using this as motivation that if someone can do it on their own, we can do it as a team,” Harper said. “I think we’re all going to take it on a positive note and see how far we can take it as a team and hopefully go to postseason.”

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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