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New golf coach eager to lead the Cougars

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PROVO — As far back as she can remember, Carrie Summerhays Roberts dreamed of playing professional golf.

Sometimes dreams change.

Now, after giving the LPGA Tour a go for three years and then spending another five years as a golf instructor in Texas, the former BYU Cougar is ready for a new venture — coaching her alma mater's women's golf team.

"When I heard the (BYU) job became open last winter, I was immediately interested," said Roberts, who grew up in Midway but now resides in Lindon with husband Cory and 3-year-old daughter Mary. "I've always had an interest in coaching, and if there was one place where I wanted to coach, it was BYU. The university and the people are so unique, and that's something I want to be a part of."

She was named the Cougars' new coach in June after a months-long search in which many well-qualified applicants were considered for the job.

"We are very excited to have Carrie join the athletic department staff," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. "She is one of the more decorated female golfers in school history. She has great experience in the golf business, and we look forward to her leading our women's golf program."

Roberts, who played for BYU from 1998 to 2002, won six tournaments during her collegiate career, was selected all-conference all four years and was named Mountain West Conference player of the year twice.

After finishing up at BYU, she moved on to the LPGA Tour, where she never won but did qualify for two U.S. Women's Open Championships and held the first-round lead at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic in 2003. After losing her tour card in 2004, however, she decided against returning to the LPGA Tour Q-school.

"Playing full-time professionally just requires so much of a commitment, and I was ready to try something else," she said.

Still, golf flows in Roberts' blood, and she believes that will be her biggest strength as she takes over the program at BYU.

Her father, Bruce Summerhays, has made a nice living playing in the Intermountain West, winning various state open tournaments and eventually getting into the winner's circle a couple of times on the Champions Tour.

"I think my dad set the tone for me. He never forced the game on me and always made sure it was something I wanted to do," Roberts said. "Now it's in my blood and something I love. I want to be around the game. It's something I just can't walk away from."

With players like Kelsey Vines, Jade Bollinger, Maggie Yaun and Emily Copier returning for the Cougars, Roberts is optimistic for BYU's immediate future.

"I think we have a great team coming back and I think we have some players with a lot of potential. My goal is to win conference every year," she said. "Whether we get invited to nationals is out of our hands, but winning conference every year is something we can control."

Roberts plans to use her own playing experience to make her team more mentally tough and better prepared for the heat of competition.

"These girls need to be put in pressure situations as much as possible and learn to handle that pressure. They also need to learn how to play the different courses and use good course management," Roberts said.

She recognizes that having a quality program starts with recruiting, and she's already on the road getting familiar with the top junior golfers around the country and world. Having men's coach Bruce Brockbank as a mentor and support will definitely help her learn the ropes.

"I can't wait to sit down and pick his brain, and make sure we're doing things the right way and that we're heading in the right direction," Roberts said.

So are Roberts' own playing days over? Actually, her new coaching job will probably allow her to play more, and return to enjoying the game like she once did. She plans to regain her amateur status and gradually work her way back into local and national competition.

"I love to compete. I love to be in pressure situations," she said. "So if I feel like my game is back in competitive shape, I'll try a few events."

e-mail: jimr@desnews.com