ISU women’s golf makes Nationals for first time, On-iam and Thammaraks build on their legacy


Richard Martinez/Iowa State Daily

Prima Thammaraks, senior from Thailand, practices a put in the new Iowa State Golf Performance Facility south of campus. 

Mike Randleman

They had to miss their college graduation for a weekend of cold, rainy weather in the mountains of Washington, but they would not have it any other way.

Instead of walking down the stage at Hilton Coliseum to receive their diplomas, seniors Prima Thammaraks and Sasikarn On-iam made the fairways of the Tumble Creek Club in Cle Elum, Washington a stage of their own as they led the ISU women’s golf team to a historic finish.

Led by the senior duo from Bangkok, Thailand, No. 27 Iowa State finished tied for sixth place at the West NCAA Regional to advance to the NCAA National Championship for the first time in program history.

“Personally, it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m still kind of in shock and a little surprised, but I’m sure it will hit me,” Thammaraks, who shot a team-best 72 in the final round, said.

When she is finally able to take it all in, her and her teammates will look back at the adversity they conquered in accomplishing a goal long in the making.

“Today was really hard out there, the wind was crazy, the pin placements were hard. I’m really proud of all of us to fight through everything,” On-iam said. “It was really frustrating out there and we try to be our best and bad shots happened, but we still found a way to get back to playing the way we wanted to.”

Entering the day, the Cyclones were in eighth place and in need of a top-eight finish to advance to Nationals. Only one shot separated them from ninth place and the pressure was on from the first tee.

The pressure that it could be the team’s last round together was on. The pressure of needing a strong round to extend the season and the pressure of breaking a drought of fruitless trips at Regional tournaments in recent years was on.

With a laundry list of obstacles ahead of them, the team made the best of the situation and rose to the occasion when in the past its efforts fell just short.

“Coach [Christie Martens] said this morning to us that ‘someone’s going to have a great round today, let’s let that be us,’” Thammaraks said. “’This could be our last round together, so let’s go out there and have fun’. I think that really came through and everyone dug deep and tried to bring their best selves out.”

At tournament’s end, all five starter’s best selves came out in one way or another. The four starters with NCAA Regional experience posted career-best finishes in this year’s event. The fifth starter, freshman Carmen Vidau, shot her third-lowest score (74) of the season in the first round to help keep the team afloat early on.

Contributions from across the board, which culminated in posting the third-best final-round score, were key to Iowa State breaking through after near misses, something On-iam knew all too well in her past three seasons.

“It happens every year that we’re really close. “We’ll finish like ninth or tenth, it’s always been so close,” On-iam said. Now in our last year, me and Prima, we finally made it.”

Welling with emotion, On-iam expressed joy in the opportunity to compete on a national scale and extend what will go down as one of the more illustrious careers in ISU history.

Like On-iam, the chance to compete at Nationals fills the final remaining void of Thammaraks’ decorated career.

While donning a cap and gown at graduation would have been a cherished moment, the history she made by wearing a golf hat and polo shirt will burn brightest in her mind.

“My whole career, everything has been about this. To get to go means everything. It feels like a missing piece is now complete,” Thammaraks said. “Graduating, walking up the stage and taking pictures with my cap and gown, that doesn’t complete my whole picture, but this does. It’s definitely worth it, there’s no way to compare it.”