Indiana Daily Student

Senior ready for postseason play

IU senior women's golfer Kate Coons competed in the NCAA Tournament in her freshman year in 2010, finishing 102nd. After missing the postseason the last two years, she hopes to finish her career strong.
IU senior women's golfer Kate Coons competed in the NCAA Tournament in her freshman year in 2010, finishing 102nd. After missing the postseason the last two years, she hopes to finish her career strong.

Three years ago, then-freshman Kate Coons stepped to the tee at Otter Creek Golf Course in Columbus, Ind., burdened by the enormity of the NCAA Tournament.

She didn’t know what to expect. Butterflies raced through her stomach before her first drive. The magnitude of the event seemed daunting to the 19-year-old.

“I just remember being really overwhelmed my freshman year,” the now-senior said. “It just seems like a much bigger stage. Everything seems bigger when you’re a freshman.”

Now, Coons is prepared for her second shot at the tournament this weekend in Norman, Okla. and hopes to put three years of hard work to good use and finish better than the 102nd-place result she took home in 2010.

“I’ve matured a lot the past four years in golf and in general,” she said. “Hopefully I can put the lessons I’ve learned to use this time around since I won’t have another shot at it.”

Coons is coming off her best career finish at the Big Ten Tournament, which ended April 28. During her final round on Sunday in French Lick, she carded a 1-over 73. She finished 20th in the tournament.

On March 27, she was named Big Ten Golfer of the Week. That week, she finished fourth at the Briar’s Creek Invitational, propelled by a 3-under 69 in the final round.
IU Coach Clint Wallman said it was “probably one of the best rounds in college golf that we have had here in the last five to six years.”

Performances like that have boosted Coons’ confidence heading into the tournament.

“This is a big stage,” she said. “But I think I can put everything into perspective more so than I could four years ago.”

Wallman has enjoyed seeing the development of Coons. This year, she was named team captain.

“From a leadership perspective, she is probably one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching,” Wallman said. “She very much leads by example, whether it’s the weight room, whether it’s practice. She gives 100 percent. She comes in all the time and asks for extra help.

“She’s the epitome of a really top-level student athlete.”

Coons said her biggest devlopment has been steadying her emotions and building confidence, something that wasn’t all there three years ago.

“In terms of my golf game, I have more confidence and I’m more stable from an emotional standpoint,” she said. “I can handle the ups and downs better than I used to.

“My game, in general, is just better from playing in competitions so often. Hopefully it all works out a little better than it did the first time.”

Coons said she has spent a lot of extra time the past couple of years working to improve her game.

It’s this moment this weekend at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club that she has been working for.

“I’ve put in a lot of work. This is what you’re working for at the end of the day,” Coons said. “It’s been worth every extra workout and every extra hour on the range after practice. It’s nice just to have it pay off. It makes all of it worth it.”

Coons said it’s “fitting” that her career wraps back around to the NCAA Tournament after appearing there as a freshman.

When she steps up to the tee Thursday, she said she’ll know what to expect.
She’s no longer burdened by the enormity of the event.

“I’m just really grateful to be here,” she said. “I’m the same competitive person I was when I was a little freshman, but I think that everything will be a little less overwhelming this time. But I’ll still be nervous in the same way.

“It’s still a big stage. Hopefully the butterflies are a little bit less.”

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