Torch passes to Chonlada Chayanun next season in ISU women’s golf


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State

Chayanun, who owns the ISU women’s golf program records in season stroke average, career stroke average, 54-hole score and 18-hole score, was named the 2014-2015 Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year

Mike Randleman

From this season to the next, the leadership on the ISU women’s golf team will take on a different look.

With two of the most decorated golfers on the team in seniors Sasikarn On-iam and Prima Thammaraks graduating, the torch has been passed to junior Chonlada Chayanun.

Chayanun, who will be a senior next season, was a top-100 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and earned All-Big 12 honors in the 2013-14 season.

Already expected to be one of Iowa State’s top options for next year after her strong regular season play, Chayanun’s postseason play demonstrated her readiness to lead the team before On-iam and Thammaraks were even out the door.

At the Big 12 Championship and in the NCAA Championship, Chayanun, nicknamed Koy, notched a pair of top 10s and was also the team’s second-lowest scorer at NCAA Regionals.

“Koy really stepped up and showed her leadership this tournament. I was really proud of her,” said Thammaraks about Chayanun tying for seventh place at the NCAA Championship. “I think the coaches will have two great leaders [in Chayanun and junior Cajsa Persson] for next year’s team and I’m really excited for both of them, especially after seeing how far they’ve come and how much they’ve grown over the years.”

An example of Chayanun’s growth on the course came in the second and third rounds at the Tulsa Country Club during the NCAA Championship.

Having posted just two rounds in the 60s entering the event, Chayanun scored a pair of 69s on a course that gave the rest of her teammates fits.

With her steady play that kept her in the mix for an individual national championship throughout all four rounds, Chayanun defeated the first and second ranked individuals in the field.

She expressed confidence in her game entering the event, but finishing in the top 10 at an elite tournament still came as somewhat of a surprise.

“It feels amazing. I didn’t expect that to happen to me. I never think to finish [in the] top 10,” Chayanun said. “When we play in a tournament, I don’t say, ‘OK, I want to finish in this place.’ I’m just going to do my best and it doesn’t matter what place I get. I feel pretty amazing to finish top 10.”

She credited her success to her strong putting, which resulted in several putts being made from outside of 20 feet. She had a 2-over-par back nine in the final round that eliminated her from a shot at first place, but overall she was pleased with her performance.

“I’m happy with the result. I feel disappointed about some holes, but overall it feels good,” Chayanun said. “I think I played more simple too. I gave all I had this tournament. This builds my confidence for next year a little bit more, too.”

With two voids in the starting lineup, Chayanun will be the lone senior for a young lineup that will likely feature a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a senior.

Despite a changing of the guard in terms of leadership, Thammaraks has faith in the duo of Chayanun and Persson to lead the team and to build upon the success of the 2013-14 season.

After advancing to the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history, the Cyclones finished 23rd out of 24 teams.

Thammaraks was proud of both her team’s accomplishment and her and On-iam’s part in taking Iowa State to the next level, but she believes that Chayanun and Persson can take the team even further next season.

“We did what we wanted to do, which was going to nationals,” Thammaraks said. “We of course wanted to finish good at nationals, but unfortunately that didn’t really go according to plan, but I think that’s a good way to end it.”

“To let that be Koy and Cajsa’s mission, something that they want to get accomplished, like Sas and I were in our earlier years. One day when that happens, I would be so proud of them and have them be so proud of themselves for making it and let that be their times.”