Cyclones women’s golf caps off strong fall season with win at Onion Creek

Dan Martin

“Golf is 90 percent mental, the rest is physical”, is a famous quote among golfers, once uttered by renowned golf expert Jim Flick. The ISU women certainly had a lot to contemplate entering the Challenge at Onion Creek on Monday and Tuesday.

They had finished no worse than fourth place before Monday and Tuesday. It was the same course where they had broken several course records at last year, and it was the final tournament of the fall season. The No. 32 Cyclones proved themselves to be up to the task, as the whole team battled through the weather to its first tournament victory of the season.

“It was awesome,” coach Christie Martens said. “That was our goal, to go down and get a win, and so it was really exciting that were able to go and stay strong and bring home the win.”

The Cyclones came out of the gates strong Monday. They took the lead with an opening round 287 in the opening 18. In the afternoon’s second round, the Cyclones kept their stride, firing a 288. They led the tournament exiting the first day with Illinois and Augusta State only two and three strokes behind.

“We knew we had a really good chance. I just told them to stay focused,” Martens said. “They are all really good at staying level-headed.”

The last round kicked off early Tuesday morning with an extra challenge for the Cyclones to endure: the weather.

“It was super windy the last day; I think our scores were a reflection of that,” Martens said. “That was a tough day, the last day.”

The winds were so intense that teams had to delay their trips home after the tournament ended. Martens said the team didn’t arrive home until almost 1 a.m.

With the victory in their sights, the Cyclones were determined to beat the weather and the other players. It was then that ISU senior Victoria Stefansen willed herself to her best round of the tournament, shooting a 70.

“She was awesome,” Martens said. “She played so well the last day. It was really good for her confidence, and we felt so good for her. She’s done so much for our team. That was really cool to see.”

Her final round 70 did more than secure her with a third-place finish individually. It also secured the team win for Iowa State against the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, who came out on fire in the final round.

In a round that no other team shot under a 306, Arkansas-Little Rock fired a 297. Its surge propelled the team into second place with a overall 889, but Iowa State remained in first with an 884.

Martens said that due to technical difficulties, they did not know how well Arkansas-Little Rock was shooting.

“They definitely shot really well,” Martens said. “We didn’t really know what was going on because [the event’s live scoring] wasn’t running very smoothly, so it was really hard to tell what was going to happen until the very end. We didn’t really know that they were playing that well. We weren’t playing with them. They were in the group behind us.”

In the end, the Cyclones were able to keep their lead despite Arkansas-Little Rock’s run and the harsh weather conditions. While Stefansen came up huge for the Cyclones, the win was due to a great team effort.

Freshman Priama Thammaraks shot a 220 to tie for 10th, which was her 10th top-10 finish of her career. Sophomore Punpaka Phuntumabamrung tied for 11th with a 221. Sasikarn On-Iam’s 223 tied her for 18th. Kristen Paulson tied for 23rd with a 224, and Laurence Herman’s 226 tied her for 27th.

“Our whole team is so great and gets along so well,” Martens said. “They feed off each other. They all bring a lot to the table, and I think it makes us a fun team to watch.”

The tournament marked the first win for coach Martens, and the first for Iowa State since 2004. The team now has three months off before spring tournament play begins.

Laurence Herman said she uses the wintertime off to improve her technique.

“Up till now it’s been feel and playing and mental states — stuff like that,” Herman said. “We practice in the heated bay during the winter where I work on my swing, and putting too.”

If the Cyclones stay strong mentally and keep playing well physically then they should be a top runner in the Big 12 and major contender in Nationals, both of which are played at the end of the spring season. The Cyclones are next in action again Feb. 13 at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic.