Ryan Murphy

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bethany Walter | Texas Athletics | Daily Texan Staff

The third time’s a charm.

The Longhorns head to Napa, California, to compete in the Silverado Showdown beginning Sunday and concluding Tuesday — their third tournament in the Golden State this season. Texas will face eight of the top 25 teams in the nation, including No. 1 UCLA. This is Texas’ last tournament before the Big 12 Championships.

Texas last competed in California two weeks ago at March Mayhem, a match play event in Rancho Santa Fe. The Longhorns finished second to USC, which is also in the field in Napa this week. The second portion of the NCAA Championship format is match play, so March Mayhem was a solid tune-up.

“It was a great week for us,” Texas head coach Ryan Murphy said. “We played some nice golf and received some good match play experience that will prepare us for May.”

The last regular season tournament is typically a good predictor for how the team will fare at the Big 12 Championships. Last season, the Longhorns finished second in their last tournament before the postseason, going on to win the Big 12 title.

It’s also worth noting that the last four Big 12 Championships have been played at courses in Texas, which offers the Longhorns a distinct advantage over teams traveling from other states.

This year, the Big 12 Championship will be played at the Dallas Athletic Club. The NCAA Regional Championship this year will take place at the University of Texas Golf Club, the Longhorns’ home course.

“A goal of ours is always to win the (NCAA) championship,” Murphy said. “In order to get ready for that, I always want to compete in whatever tournament we go to and have a chance to win. If we are doing that on a regular basis, we’ll be as ready as we can be at the end of the year.”

Texas has won twice this season and has finished in the top 10 in every tournament the team has competed in.

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

A lot of kids dream of making the pros and getting paid to do what they love. 

For most, it’s just that — a dream. But for the eight Texas women’s golf team members, this dream of making the big leagues and playing in the LPGA Tour is close to reality.

“All have the ability to make the LPGA,” head coach Ryan Murphy said. “It’s just a question of if that’s what you want to do with your life.”  

Murphy’s statement is twofold: it’s an endorsement of his players’ abilities and also a recognition of the difficulties of earning and keeping an LPGA Tour card.

There are three qualifying stages to earning the tour card. About 300 women begin the process with Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. The top 100 players and ties from the first stage move onto the second tournament. From the second, the top 80 and ties advance to the third and final stage, which is a 90-hole tournament over five days, after which the top 20 finishers receive
LPGA memberships.

“Love and passion for the game is necessary to be a professional,” Murphy said. “I have inherited a group of young women who work hard and are capable.” 

Last weekend at the Ping/ASU Invitational, junior Tezira Abe posted two season-low rounds of 70 (-2). At that same tournament, senior Bertine Strauss tied for first place with a three-round score of 210 (-6). 

A few weeks earlier at the Anuenue Spring Break Classic, sophomore Julia Beck had her best finish — a tie for ninth. All three hope to parlay this recent success into professional careers.

“My goal is to play on the LPGA Tour and contend for major championships,” Beck said. 

Her experience as a Longhorn has offered her the opportunity to play against the best and understand how she can improve on the course, specifically with her driver in her attempts to hit the ball longer and shorten the course.

As for Abe, advice from Murphy has encouraged her to be more prepared.

“Coach said that I should be first to arrive to practice and last to leave from practice,” said Abe. 

In addition to putting in the practice time and working hard, Abe said she has been able to learn from Kate Golden, 18-year LPGA veteran and associate head coach. 

Murphy, a first-time Division I head coach, believes Texas won’t be the end of the line for Strauss.

“You’ll see Bertine on television soon,” Murphy said. “It’s been her dream for some time.”

These players all have aspirations of becoming the next member of the tour, but each at her own pace. 

As a senior, Strauss hopes to finish this season, graduate and pursue the tour this fall. Abe will graduate in December, play through her college eligibility and then move to achieve LPGA membership. As for Beck, she will make the journey to the tour once her game reaches a point where she believes she can contend among the best.

These players know their dreams are close. It’s just a matter of realizing it.

Facing heavy winds, the Texas women’s golf team posted a final round team score of 300 in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday to finish the UCF Challenge in a tie for eighth at 16-over par.

“Per our team effort, we were better today in the wind than we have been this season, so, in that regard, we are making progress,” head coach Ryan Murphy said.

Junior Natalie Karcher, one of the five individuals sent to the challenge, finished 11th place with a 2-under par for the tournament — a personal best for this season and second-best of her career.

Among the other Longhorns who participated in the tournament, sophomore Julia Beck posted a 4-over par, placing her 34th. Beck has had an incredibly consistent season for the Longhorns, having competed in all four events for the Longhorns with all 12 rounds she has posted counting toward the team’s final score.

Coming in right behind Beck, senior Bertine Strauss shot a 5-over par to finish in 35th place. Strauss finished strong in the final round of the event, posting a par in her final round, which was the best of the day for
the Longhorns.

“Good round by Bertine today in 18-20 mph winds,” Murphy said. “Not many scores were at or below par today, so it’s a good note for her to finish this tournament on.”

To round things out, sophomore Anne Hakula finished in 63rd place while junior Teriza Abe shot a 19-over-par, resulting in a 92nd place finish.

The event was the fifth of the season for the Longhorns, who scored an 880 at the three-day event. Ultimately, Texas finished 30 strokes behind the winners of the tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers, who posted a 14-under par.

“Finishing eighth of 18 is not what we were striving for, but it’s an okay starting point for us this spring,” Murphy said. “From here, it’s about getting better every time we tee it up.”

The Longhorns’ next event is the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate from Feb. 22-24 at the English Turn Country Club in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

After two self-contained seasons of terror, “American Horror Story” easily embodies the term “crazy pants.” Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have taken their hypersexual horror anthology to a new level with season three, titled “Coven.” Minotaur-pleasuring, human voodoo-dolling and Stevie Nicks-worshipping insanity have appeared already, but one constant holds the show together like glue. 

That glue is Jessica Lange. Playing a wildly different character in each season, Lange is a staple of this terrifically twisted series. After winning her Oscar for “Tootsie,” Lange consistently took challenging roles that eventually garnered her four additional Oscar nominations. In 2011, Lange brought her talents to television in the first season of FX’s “American Horror Story.” Her performance as Constance Langdon, the villainous neighbor of the doomed Harmon family, was deliciously wicked — exhibiting a deadly motherly charm that hid even deadlier secrets. In the span of just 12 episodes, Lange made Mrs. Voorhees look like June Cleaver. Her powerhouse portrayal dominated the 2011 television season and won her both an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Lange’s excellence carried over into season two, “Asylum.” Though the storyline, set in an asylum with aliens, human experiments and demonic possession, was appropriately insane, “Asylum” was ultimately a quieter season. As Sister Jude, the head nun of Briarcliff Mental Institution, Lange gave fans a decidedly more sympathetic character to obsess over. Where Langdon’s arc was permeated with constant sinister behavior, Jude’s arc was intensely transformative and often tragic. At first glance, her character was villainous and cruel, but as her caretaker/patient mentality was reversed, Jude emerged as a hopelessly lost soul desperately racing to escape the mistakes of her past. Her redemption in season two’s finale gave viewers a surprisingly tender send-off. While that ending was unusual for such a typically dark show, “Asylum” effectively nurtured a growing knack for mature and nuanced character development that has continued into the first few episodes of season three.

With “Coven,” Lange appears to be returning to her purely antagonistic season one roots with her nasty performance as Fiona Goode. Goode is the current “Supreme,” a generational title given to the most powerful witch in the coven. Goode’s obsession with eternal youth and her ruthless defense of her status gives Lange’s performance plenty of power-hungry material to play with, though viewers don’t have much reason to sympathize with her. Goode’s hilariously antagonistic relationship with Kathy Bates’ immortal Delphine LaLaurie is the biggest selling point of this season so far and the escalation of their conflict is going to be exciting to watch.

Lange’s terrific performances consistently draw viewers into the morbid world of “American Horror Story.” Here’s hoping her winning streak continues as “Coven” draws to a close and that Murphy and Falchuk’s next horrifying yarn amply features her wicked versatility and commanding presence. 

Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and Taissa Farmiga starred in last year’s premiere season of FX’s “American Horror Story” as the Harmon family (Photo courtesy of FX).

 TV showrunners Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s creations are often controversial and divisive. Last year’s “American Horror Story” was no different. The showrunners are not known for their subtlety or their restraint, and just like the duo’s previous projects “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee,” “American Horror Story” is a Frankensteinian hodgepodge of various tropes, themes, plot lines and homages, with little regard for pacing, artistic discernment or comprehensibility. Despite this, it was still one of the most entertaining new shows of the fall season when it premiered last year.

Unlike its predecessors, however, it seems like “American Horror Story” will soon be challenging the current status quo for the format of American serialized TV dramas. Last month, Murphy announced that the second season of “American Horror Story” would be leaving its original characters and setting of the Harmon family and their murderous Los Angeles home behind, starting all over with a new cast, a new “horror” and an entirely new story: a complete reboot, with only the theme of American horror to unite them. A few actors from season one may return, but as different characters, Murphy said. Even the title sequence will be different.

Although Ryan Murphy and company tend to get a lot of grief from television critics, this move should be applauded. Even if the anthology model turns out to be a disaster, no one will be able to say that “American Horror Story” went with the predicable option. On the contrary, this is a surprisingly risky move for Murphy and FX to make in a medium like television, which rests so tenuously on viewer numbers and loyalty for success. By shedding the premise that made “American Horror Story” resonate so strongly in the first place, it also risks losing the viewers still attached to those original characters.

Typically with successful American series, studios will continue churning out season after season of a show until it completely runs out of the creative steam that made it so culturally and financially successful in the first place. “The Office” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spring to mind. But if executed correctly, “American Horror Story” could potentially do away with this limitation, delivering a fresh story, tone, aesthetic and chemistry between the casts from season to season.

This concept of a television anthology series, in which each season explores an entirely different story from the last, is remarkably innovative in the context of the current American TV landscape. No other show has ever attempted a reboot with this level of totality. It will be exciting to see what kind of gory insanity the “AHS” crew will serve up for us next, as well as a little nerve-racking. Will these showrunners, notorious for starting with strong, story-heavy first seasons that devolve into complete chaos, be able to pull off such a promising, largely unprecedented concept?

The “American Horror Story” creators have yet to give any substantial information on what kind of macabre premise season two will have, but Murphy stated that he suspects word about the new cast will appear around February. In the meantime, Murphy hinted that a clue to next season’s premise lies in “Afterbirth,” the season one finale. Dedicated fans may wait with nervous anticipations to see what fresh hell “American Horror Story” will serve up next fall, but for now all we can do is comb that finale in the vain hope that we can figure it out first.

Printed on Thursday, January 19, 2012 as: Revamped 'Horror Story' leaves original characters behind

Director and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy has taken a break from choir and show tunes for a journey of self-discovery. “Eat Pray Love” is based on the memoir of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert that depicts her travels and the personal revelations that come with them.

Julia Roberts plays Gilbert, a smart, attractive woman who after a messy divorce decides to spend an entire year traveling to Italy, India and Bali to find spiritual guidance, personal identity and balance. She decides to embark on this ambitious odyssey after feeling as though she had lost her sense of self after starting a relationship with a much younger man, Dave (James Franco).

Gilbert travels to Italy specifically to indulge. She falls in love with the food, the people and the Italian language. It is in Italy where she fulfills the “eat” portion of her journey. In one particular scene, you see Gilbert simply enjoying a plate of spaghetti with absolutely no regrets or calorie counting.

Next, she sets her sights on an ashram in India to “pray.” Gilbert learns balance while she is there. She meets a slew of colorful characters, including a hippie from Texas (Richard Jenkins) who teaches her to forgive herself of the guilt with her divorce and in turn shares his own heart-wrenching story about his own yearning for forgiveness. She also meets a young girl who is set to have an arranged marriage and strikes up a friendship with her.

Elizabeth finds “love” in Bali when meets a man named Felipe (Javier Bardem). Felipe is strong, sensitive and confident — most women’s idea of the “perfect man.” While in Bali, Gilbert also becomes reacquainted with the medicine man whose story had attracted her to Bali in the first place.

The film does end in a typical romantic-comedy cliche, but this kind of ending is warranted for a film that is otherwise devoid of the tropes of romantic comedies. “Eat Pray Love” has breathtaking cinematography that makes the audience wish it were on Gilbert’s journey. If you are fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, you will not be disappointed with Murphy’s sensitive adaptation.

Grade: B