Women’s Golf Starts Season Strong

Mario Santos-Davidson, Sports Writer

The Whitman women’s golf team started the year with high hopes after finishing ranked in the top 10 each of the last two seasons. With only Lou Points graduating from last year’s squad, the team began the season hoping to continue the recent run of success.

“This team has the opportunity to be our best team in program history with two All-Americans leading the way,” Coach Skip Molitor said.

Phoebe Nguyen, senior, captain of the women’s golf team. Photo archived. Photo by Natalie Mutter

The aforementioned All-Americans are junior Shiyang Fan and senior Phoebe Nguyen, both of whom have gotten off to a tremendous start in 2017. The first tournament of the season resulted in a victory for the team, as well as an individual win for Fan with a two day score of 1 under par. Two weeks later at the following tournament, it was Nguyen’s turn to lead the team to victory by carding 2 over par at their home tournament. The win was the tenth of her already illustrious career.

While Fan and Nguyen are leading the way at the top of the line-up, the rest of the returning players have improved and stepped up into their roles as consistent scorers and leaders.

“With five returnees, we will be one of the most experienced teams in the conference. Phoebe and Kendall [Dunovant] will provide very positive leadership, Shiyang continues to be one of the top players in the country, and Ally and Kacey are significantly improved and more comfortable with NWC golf competition,” Molitor said.

“Our sophomores Kacey Godwin and Ally Collier have improved a lot since their first year at Whitman, and their scores have reflected that,” Nguyen added.

Ally Collier commented on what has made the biggest difference in her comfort level this year compared to the last.

“The thing that has changed for me from my first year is that I know now what to expect both on the course and academically,” Collier said.

Joining the five returnees are first-years Emma Beyer, Helen Maslen and Jhunam Sidhu, who have already made a positive impact in the first month while still adjusting to collegiate athletics.

“Our first-years are transitioning well to college golf and having a huge impact in helping the competitiveness of our team,” Nguyen said.

Phoebe Nguyen. Photo archived. Photo by Natalie Mutter

“They have been a great addition to the team. Emma Beyer just helped us win the Whitman Invitational with a 79 on the second day,” Collier added.

Now in his tenth season leading the program, coach Molitor knows the importance of getting the young players used to the team atmosphere and the competitiveness of NCAA athletics.

“Our first-year players … have assimilated very well into our family atmosphere. All three have contributed and will continue to play an increasingly important role as they get accustomed to collegiate golf,” Molitor said.

Team trips are always a great way to grow together and bond as a team, and during the four day break, the women’s golf team was able to do exactly that.

Following two relatively comfortable wins to begin the season, the team travelled to Canby, Oregon to play in the Culturame Classic. The tournament host was George Fox, the only Northwest Conference team that has been able to beat Whitman the last few years and the reigning national runner-ups.

After an opening round that finished with Whitman trailing Goerge Fox by 21, the Blues bounced back nicely in round 2, posting a 305 that fell just 4 shots shy of George Fox’s 301. Nguyen and Fan both had fantastic rounds on Sunday, shooting even par and 1 over respectively. Nguyen tied for first but lost out on the individual title in a playoff with Kristin Elich from George Fox.

The team will look to carry that second day momentum into the Fall Classic, the first of three major tournaments and the only one in the fall portion of the season. While the runner-up finish was not what the team was hoping for, the second round proved that Whitman could hang tough with one of the top teams in the nation.