In her collegiate golf debut, freshman Valerie Clancy finished third overall and first individually in the Ball State Cardinal Classic on Tuesday in Yorktown, Indiana.
Clancy ended the tournament at three over par after improving in each of the three rounds. She shot six over Monday morning, even par Monday afternoon, and three under in the final round Tuesday.
Although she is only a freshman, her strong play was no surprise to IU head coach Clint Wallman.
“Valerie posted a 3-under earlier today. That’s a big-time statement right there,” Wallman said Tuesday. “She played on the Irish national team, so she has that experience, which turned her into a high-level, competitive player.”
Along with the confidence from her coach, Clancy said she was optimistic about her play heading into Monday.
“I was really excited to play my first tournament,” Clancy said. “I was playing quite well going into the week with competitive practices, so I was ready.”
Joining Clancy as individual golfers were freshman Hanna Tanaka and sophomore Arushi Singh. Tanaka finished her first tournament tied for 28th overall as she lowered her score each round. Singh had a tough second round, but the same theme rang true as she improved by 13 strokes Tuesday and finished tied for 56th.
All three IU golfers improved their play as the tournament went on. One reason for the improvements was turning bogeys into pars in the following round but also not getting down on themselves.
“You have to understand that this is sports,” Wallman said. “Stuff doesn’t always go your way, and what defines you as a player is how you are able to rebound from tough situations.”
The experience of playing as individuals is something the coaching staff takes very seriously. Wallman said he wants all his golfers to experience real events with pressurized situations, not just the top five.
Although IU did not send its main core to the tournament, Clancy said she feels like the team is building chemistry after just two tournaments. One contributung factor is what everyone strives to achieve, but she said she thinks her teammates' attitudes also play a role.
“We all have very similar goals,” Clancy said. “We are here to achieve our potential in golf, and everybody is very friendly about it, so it works.”
IU will be back in action as a team this weekend, as it takes part in the East-West Match Play Challenge in Madison, Wisconsin. Sunday will be usual stroke play to assign competitors for match play Monday and Tuesday.
But for now, IU women’s golf is taking it one round at a time.
“We improve ourselves by making better decisions,” Wallman said. “We’re trying to learn every time we go out.”
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