Surrounded by the NCAA sanctions controversy circling their male team counterpart (See: Men’s Golf Faces NCAA Sanctions), the women’s golf team took to the WCC Championships at the Carlton Oaks Golf Club in San Diego, proving themselves to be capable of trudging through the rough and focusing on the game.
USF was represented by five exceptionally talented women: freshman Joan Soewondo, sophomore Samantha Gong, senior Kimberly Liu, senior Emily Laskin and senior Vanessa Ha. From April 16 to April 18, the Dons each played one round to count for their final score. To stay in the competitive mindset for three days while remaining consistent and equally energized each day is difficult, but the Dons entered the competition with the steely focus they’ve had all season long.
Golf in the West Coast Conference is a small but powerful group of competitors. Only half of the 10 schools in the WCC have golf in their competitive wheelhouses, so the Dons faced a few very familiar opponents: Pepperdine University, Brigham Young University, Santa Clara University and Gonzaga University. Entering the tournament with a middle-of-the-pack standing, the Dons had a daunting task ahead of them – especially seeing that, out of 21 previous tournaments, Pepperdine has seen victory in 17.
Over the course of three days, the Dons put up a good fight with only a few errors committed, but ultimately could not break from the middle-ground standing they entered the championship with, finishing off in third place with +16 (for a total of 304). However, Pepperdine’s record of success was knocked down a peg with BYU retaining their season standing and coming out in first place with +7 (294).
Despite not winning the championships, the Dons found great personal success in the wake of the competition. In overall individual standings at the at the tournament, the Dons were led by Soewondo, who tied for fifth place with a final score of +9 (225), and Ha, who landed in seventh place with a score of +11 (225).
After the tournament, All-Conference honors went to three Dons: sophomore Samantha Gong, senior Emily Laskin and senior Vanessa Ha. In particular, Ha’s honor this season marked her as a three-time honoree – the first Don to accomplish this in eight years. She also has held the highest ranking for the Dons in 7 of the 10 competitions played this season, making her final year here at USF one to truly remember and revel in. Fellow senior Laskin is also finishing on a high note, with her last year on the team being marked by a top 10 performance at the Sacramento State Invitational back in March.
While the team will feel the loss of the exiting seniors in the 2018-19 season, with freshman talent like Samantha Gong – who led the Dons in two of the three events this year that Ha did not dominate – on the squad, the team will surely not be lacking in competent and committed players.
In golf, it’s a matter of individual strokes that build up to have a huge impact on the team overall. The Dons spent the season chipping away at the competition, ending the year with a satisfactory performance at the WCC Championships. For such a small team in such a small pool of competitors, the Dons have truly shown that they are able to hold their own and remain focused and consistent.