Golf team rides successful season into PacWest championships

With their seven-month season concluding April 7 at the NCAA West Regional tournament, PLNU’s golf team will be taking their No. 3 seed into the PacWest championships. PLNU placed fifth out of 19 Division II schools at the tournament. This marked the sixth time out of eight matches the Sea Lions have placed in the top 30 percent or better in tournament play – excluding exhibition games – this season.

Senior Annika Nousiainen made school history by tying the record for the lowest single round score with a 69 during the dual match against Central College on March 19.. Nousiainen said the whole team has the potential to play like this during their matches.

“Team-wise, we are all great ball strikers, we can do it. So we honestly haven’t had that tournament yet where everyone has played their [best] game,” said Nousiainen. “[Some matches] We will have like three of us do well and two won’t do as well. So if we come together during this tournament, we will win because of the fact that we consistently all can do that [play well].”

This marks the first year the Sea Lions will contend for the PacWest championship at the Sunbrook Golf Club in St. George, Utah. The course is quite different from the prior tournament last year with shorter par five holes, which allow for players to attempt more aggressive shots.

Sophomore Mariah Fuller said the team will have an advantage this year as PLNU finished second at the Dixie State Invitational October 14 on the Utah course.

“They’re a lot different. Hawaii’s was on Western Oahu, so it’s very windy,” said Fuller. “You had to keep the ball low as well as the climate is a lot different. Whereas Dixie State is kind of in the desert, so the ball goes farther and you can hit it up a little higher, scores will probably be little lower there.”

Along with practicing in preparation for the tournament, players have been utilizing the skills of one sports psychologist, Sarah Castillo, to aid them in the mental aspect of the game. This is the first season the team has used a psychologist in their fourth year. Head Coach Jacqui McSorley said this has benefited the team in their improvement from last season as they use her services approximately once per week.

“She works a lot with them being aware of the moment, to stay in the moment, to be able to decipher between truth and fiction as it pertains in all athlete’s minds,” said McSorley. “You know, you miss a putt and all of a sudden you become the worst putter in the world, so it’s helped them move on from their mistakes and to bring up or bring forward their best golf.”

The Sea Lions will play in the PacWest Championships today as part of a three-day tournament. They will advance to the NCAA Super Regional tournament on May 4 if they place first at the championships.

“They say ‘success loves preparation,’” said Fuller. “So that’s kind of what our mantra’s been all year: If we prepare for it, it’s going to pay off.”