SE: K-State Women's Golf Looks to Build on Tournament Win

Hard work doesn’t always guarantee success, especially in the game of golf. 

Kristi Knight, in her 22nd year as the women’s head coach at K-State, knows this better than most, which is why she was especially encouraged by her team’s victory at the Chip-N Club Invitational nearly three weeks ago.

“They’ve been doing a really good job in practice all year. That’s what’s good to see,” Knight said. “I’m happy for them because sometimes it takes longer than that, especially in this crazy game.”

The victory marked the program’s 10th ever. The Wildcats’ final round, a 3-under 285, tied the fifth lowest single-round score in school history. 

It truly was a team effort, too. 

Four of K-State’s five best individual scores came on the final day. For example, Katherine Gravel-Coursol’s 1-over 73 would have counted toward the team’s total on the first two days, but missed the third round’s four-player score.   

“I think the win will give them a little boost and reinforce what they’ve been doing,” Knight said. “We just hope they keep bringing the focus and energy to practice. I think they will.”

“It was certainly a confidence booster for the whole team,” junior Connie Jaffrey added. “That’s what we’re working for. That’s what we put all of our practices, all of our workouts and all of our preparation for, to win the tournament. So it’s always good when you achieve your goals. We want to hopefully continue that momentum for the rest of the reason.”

K-State led wire to wire in the three-day tournament, but a sizable lead dwindled in the second round when the Wildcats posted a 9-over 301. Their final round secured the victory, the program’s first since the fall of 2014, by five strokes. More importantly, it displayed growth and maturity from the team, Knight said. 

“For a team that had a lot of putts in that second day, they didn’t show any hangover,” Knight said. “Sometimes it can get in your head. They just came out on the last day, hit a lot of good shots and made putts.”

“We were quite proud,” said Jaffrey, who finished 13th despite not having any practice rounds due to arriving late the day before following the World Team Amateur Championships in Mexico, “but it’s certainly something we’re capable of, and more, and it’s something that we definitely have to shoot for to win.”

K-State resumes its fall schedule Monday at the Greenville Regional Preview, a two-day tournament in Greenville, North Carolina. 

The Wildcats’ lineup of Paige Nelson, Madison Talley, Chloe Weir, Jaffrey and Gravel-Coursol enter the tournament with a boosted confidence from their last performance, along with other improvements from the offseason. 

“Everyone understands each other and we all understand what we need to do, individually. I think all of our performances have improved and our short game has definitely improved,” Jaffrey said. “We just have a different team mentality, different thought process than in previous years. In previous years, we kind of thought we weren’t able to compete against the big teams, but this year, coming together, understanding everyone’s personal strengths and putting it into one team atmosphere helps us build on that so we can compete against the best.
 
“Winning adds onto the momentum, adds onto our confidence that we can do a lot more.”

After this week’s tournament, the Wildcats have two more competitions in the fall. The season will pick back up on February 26, for the Westbrook Invitational in Peoria, Arizona. 

Before the lengthy break, K-State wants to position itself well for a regional push in the spring. 

“We want to have a good ranking to make sure that we can progress and do well, but it also kind of takes the pressure off of us going into regionals,” said Jaffrey, with K-State seeking its first regional bid since the 2003-04 season. “So we’re trying to boost that ranking, get higher up the fields and be in good position going into spring.”

To get there, Knight said the team would have to take care of “their process” every day. 

“Eating right, sleeping right, taking care of their schoolwork, putting in the practice time, bringing their focus and energy to practice,” Knight listed. “So far they’re doing that. That’s the main thing you need in the fall because if you do those things, results will eventually take care of themselves.

“I think their win showed that, because they had the fortitude to come out on that final day and they didn’t show any fear, any hesitation. They just went out and played and did a great job.”