In the Women’s Golf Big West Championship Tournament, junior Nicole Neale was on the 18th hole of the second day when she secured an eagle on a par five with all of her teammates watching.
“It was nice to have my teammates there in such a cool moment,” Neale said.
In golf, players usually are in various places on a course but because Neale was one of the last to finish, supporters and teammates got to see her big finish.
Neale’s eagle was one of the many crucial plays that contributed to the team’s 11-stroke Big West championship victory.
“It feels great to add another Big West championship to the trophy case and keep building on the success of this program,” head coach Courtney Roberts said.
Cal Poly Women’s Golf is now on the road to its third NCAA tournament appearance as the 11th seed, with the regional tournament from Monday, May 8 through Wednesday, May 10 in Pullman, Washington.
The No. 2 seed in the Big West, the Mustangs qualified for the tournament after winning the Big West for the third straight year. This was the first tournament win of the season, but it was the one that mattered most.
“We didn’t have the strongest start to the season but we are ramping up at the right times with a fourth finish in Hawaii and winning the conference,” Neale said.
Neale and fifth-year Vanessa Wang have been leading the team with their scores this season, and they have been on the teams that won the last two Big West Championships, so they knew they could do it again.
“We weren’t the one seed but it still felt like our tournament,” Wang said. “It was like we needed to win this and we have done this before. Let’s do it again.”
The team consists of mostly upperclassmen, including fifth-year Elizabeth Scholtes and junior Carissa Wu. They both believe the team is ready to compete in the NCAA tournament and has a bond that most teams don’t.
“We have been trying to build on belief in ourselves and each other, it is something powerful and something we can use to our advantage,” Scholtes said.
Even though the team is coming into regionals as underdogs they believe they can make it to the state tournament if they stick to what they’ve been doing.
“Anybody that has played at a high level knows that the way you play great golf is by doing the things well that you do every day,” Roberts said.
This is Roberts’ first season at Cal Poly and she believes the team has what it takes to make it to the National Championship.
“We just need to continue to be ourselves and take care of what we can control,” she said.
The team has a lot of respect for their coach and believe she helped to make their culture even stronger this season.
“With Courtney being here for the first year it has been really good for our team, and having a different perspective from a new coach has helped us grow as a team,” Wang said.
Even though golf is known as an individual sport, the Cal Poly team does not act like it. They spend a lot of time with each other on and off the course.
“We are all returning players so we know each other well and we hang out all the time and that accompanied with two great coaches makes for an awesome team culture,” Neale said.
Combined with a strong culture, Roberts believes the team has a great work ethic and is “hungry to learn and improve.”
“We are the best sport at Cal Poly right now… truly our program has grown so much in the last few years I’ve been here,” Scholtes said.