Freshman in Fourth
July 29, 2008
For 102 years, the Utah Women’s State Am has been showing off the immense golfing talent of local females. This year, Park City’s Brianna Coopman demonstrated her own skill by coming within just a few strokes of claiming the State Am title at the Hubbard Golf Course at Hill Air Force Base.
After shooting a 77 the first day, the University of Iowa golfer came back to shoot a 73 and 72 the next two days. Her performance gave her fourth place overall. The championship trophy went to last year’s winner Daphne (Vines) Parker, who won in a playoff against another former champion, Lachelle Poffenberger. Parker, who transferred to Louisville after starting her career at Brigham Young University, finished with a total score of 213.
The Coopman name may sound familiar because of Brianna’s little brother, Michael. The freshman splashed onto the prep golf season last year for Park City high School by shooting a record-setting 66 in one tournament and quickly establishing himself on the varsity rotation.
Coopman is no stranger to tough competition. As a freshman letter-winning golfer for Iowa, she spent the season going up against some of the best in the Big Ten Conference. She also got a bit of help from the course. The women’s tees at the State Am are only 5,800 yards. In college tournaments, the tees are 6,300 yards.
"For me it played pretty short," Coopman said. "It made it easier for the college players."
Coopman was joined by a mix of college players, older players and even a few still in their teens. She said she was humbled by the talent all of the other players. She hopes that young girls are taking notice of how well women are doing in the game of golf. When she was in high school in Texas, girls’ golf was a huge sport and she hopes to see more girls in Utah trying the game and taking advantage of college scholarships.
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"Scholarships aren’t what made me play, but it made me think about it," Coopman said.
This was Coopman’s first State Am, but she is no stranger to tournament play. She said she went with her usual attitude of no expectations, which helps her to keep the nerves and pressure at bay.
"I think of it as another day on the golf course," Coopman said.
Her plan seemed to work. She shot one of her better tournaments ever and already has her sights set on winning it all next year.
"I realized that if I had a lower score on the first day, I would have been in it," she said.
Coopman, who calls Jeremy Ranch her home course, gets a lot of support from both friends and family. Her dad, Michael, Sr. served as her caddie through the three-day tournament. He also served as her one-member cheering section, with other family members traveling in other parts of the country. Dad’s role as caddie and fan had its limits, though.
"I told him beforehand. I said all you’re here to is to get my yardage and read my putts," she laughed.
Coopman said her worst day of hitting was in the finals, but she still managed to beat her two previous scores to finish at even-par. The altitude change has made hitting in general a challenge for Coopman. She said she is always thinking and rethinking about her club choice when she hits and when she travels to tournaments back at seas level after a month in Utah, it takes awhile to adjust.
"It’s a huge difference," she said. "I think it’s one of my biggest struggles I can’t decide what to hit with."
Coopman has been getting some help with her high-altitude game from fellow collegiate golfer and friend Steele DeWald. The pair practice almost daily at Jeremy Ranch and Coopman said that he has taught her a lot about her game.
"He’s been a huge help this summer," Coopman said. "He knows so much about golf."
She said that he works with her on her swing, course management and other aspects of her game. During the tournament he called her after each day to give her words of encouragement.
Coopman has always been a student of the game, learning and improving since she was small. It seems that golf is all in the family for the Coopmans. Michael, Sr. has always made his living working in some aspect of golf construction and the whole family loves to play together. Although, Coopman said that she didn’t get serious about the game until high school, she barely remembers a time that she wasn’t out hitting balls around the course.
Coopman wasn’t the only Parkite burning up the Hill Air Force course. Fellow resident Julie McMullin also had a headlining week at the State Am, tying for fourth in the top flight with a 224.