Hoosier golfers shine through team’s struggles

The women’s golf team played its previous two tournaments in a span of 11 days.

The tournaments comprised 108 holes of golf in six rounds, and three of IU’s players battled illnesses.

Sophomore Erin Harper, IU’s top returning player from last season, missed both tournaments due to illness.

Freshman Elisa Pierre and senior Theresa-Ann Jedra were able to play but were not 100-percent healthy.

IU was able to scratch out a third-place finish at Michigan State, but it ran out of fuel at the Powerade Cougar Classic and finished tied for 19th.

Throughout the team’s battle with illnesses and a tough schedule, senior Ana Sanjuan and junior Alix Kong have both been bright spots for a team that hasn’t gotten off to the start it expected this season.

Both Kong and Sanjuan were individually in the top 10 at Michigan State, and each finished in the top 50 in a much more competitive field at the Cougar Classic.

IU Coach Clint Wallman said the duo has been rock solid and has helped the team by doing more than just posting good scores.

“They’ve set a lot of examples from a leadership standpoint,” Wallman said. “They’ve been encouraging, and part of our success in the game we play is making sure everyone takes care of their own business, and those two have certainly done that. They’ve killed it.”

The two golfers built up confidence in very different ways this summer.

Kong did not play in any tournaments due to her enrollment in summer classes.

As a result, she entered the season with a blank slate and a new point of view.

“I don’t see golf as a job,” Kong said. “I see it as an opportunity to play nice courses, and I don’t put that pressure on myself anymore. I have a lot of fun with it, so I think that results in me playing better.”

Sanjuan chose a different route and found her confidence after competing in and winning a tournament by 16 strokes in Spain.

Wallman said the secret to both players’ improvement this season has been their ability to manage themselves on the golf course and not worry about the team’s success.

“In team golf it’s different because you have five players and everyone wants to do their best, and the success of the team could hinge on one or two players, but you can’t get caught up in that trap,” Wallman said.

“You need to do your job, take care of your golf ball, get your stuff in the clubhouse and then we will be fine. Both of those players have done a tremendous job of taking care of their business.”

With nearly three weeks of rest before their next tournament, and Harper, Jedra and Pierre expected to be back to full strength.Wallman said the team is focused on finishing the fall season strong as they hope to get their key golfers back for the remainder of this season and into the spring.

“It would be very beneficial for us to have a good tournament as we head into the winter break,” Wallman said. “Especially rebounding off the tournament in Charleston, if we can play a good tournament, it will give us a little momentum, confidence and inspiration to go work hard in that two-month off period before we get back after it.”

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