ISU women’s golf looks for more complete performance in Florida

Mike Randleman

When the college golf season reaches the closing stretch, refinement of a player’s game often takes priority over wholesale improvement.

For a young ISU women’s golf team that features three freshmen in its starting lineup, ISU coach Christie Martens is still seeking improvement as the Cyclones prepare for the Miami Hurriance Invitational on March 2 to 4. It is the first of three remaining regular season tournaments.

“For us, it’s still about improving and seeing where those areas are that we need to focus on,” Martens said. “It’s easier now that we’ve had some tournaments under our belt. We can see, ‘okay, this is how we looked in practice. This is where it looks like we actually need to improve when we’re playing on the course.”

When her team takes to the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables, Fla., Martens will require one of her veterans, junior Cajsa Persson, to assume a more aggressive approach.

“With Cajsa, we’re really working on her aggressiveness, to really attack the golf course and have an aggressive mindset,” Martens said.

After a sophomore campaign that featured three top-10 finishes, Persson has yet to find the top 20 in 2014-15.

Though unable to sustain last season’s success thus far, Persson said her attitude and appetite for improvement have remained the same.

“You always want to be better, you always want to improve,” Persson said. “Just keep working hard.”

If the junior from Jonkoping, Sweden is primed to break through, this week could be a place to start. Persson tied for 26th place at last year’s Miami Hurricane Invitational, helping Iowa State finish in second place and only one shot out of first.

One Cyclone whose game does not need a jump start is senior Chonlada Chayanun.

Chayanun was recognized as Golfweek’s women’s collegiate player of the week after her five-shot victory at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic on Feb. 17.

“I was really surprised that I got that,” Chayanun said. “When I saw that I was really happy, it was the first time ever [winning the award].”

By notching her first collegiate win, Chayanun vaulted up to No. 48 in the Golfweek collegiate individual rankings and will look to climb further when she returns to a site of a top-10 finish last season.

Then-senior Sasikarn On-iam stole the show for her co-medalist honors, but Chayanun trailed her Thai teammate by just four shots en route to tying for seventh place.

Iowa State has had two dependable scorers for much of the season, as  Chayanun’s recent success has combined with a freshman campaign from Celia Barquin, in which she has led the team with a 72.8 scoring average.

The Lady Puerto Rico Classic served as a microcosm of the other three starters’ season-wide contributions, as Martens said she saw “flashes of greatness” as well as “real areas to improve”.

Freshman Nattapan Siritrai posted her second lowest round of the season with a 72 in round two, but sandwiched it between rounds of 76 and 80. In difficult scoring conditions in round three, M.J. Kamin posted a qualifying score of 77, but was unable to break 80 in her first two rounds. Persson improved her score in each round, but could not break 75 in any round.

As a team, the Cyclones finished third out of 15 teams, but could be poised to break through with a more complete performance this week.

Iowa State will face a field of 14 teams of which only one — No. 8 Northwestern — is ranked ahead of the Cyclones. Iowa State holds a 9-4 record against the other 13 teams.