Cougar golf tees off on 2021 season

WSU men’s, women’s golf debut 2021 season in early week tournaments



Then-freshman Amy Chu refines her driving skills along with teammates Madison Odiorne and Emily Baumgart during a practice session on April 1, 2019, at WSU’s practice facility.

DAYLON HICKS, Evergreen reporter

The Cougar’s golf team kicked off its season as the men’s team traveled to Seattle for the Husky Invitational and the women’s team traveled to Wisconsin for the Badger Invitational. 

The men started play on Monday with a team full of veterans. The redshirt senior from Canada, Max Sekulic, lined up as the No. 1 slot, while sophomores Preston Bebich and Jaden Cantafio were in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. Tianyu Wu made his return to golf in the No. 4 position after redshirting last season. Yuya Eguchi concluded the lineup for the Cougars.

Junior Pono Yanagi and first-year Peter Jung and Franklin Lydra competed at the Husky Invitational as individuals. The 2021 Husky Invitational featured a 15-team field consisting of Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, St. Mary’s, Missouri, Long Beach State, San Jose State, Boise State, Idaho, Cal Poly, Seattle U., Nevada, Southern Miss and Toledo.

Entering his sixth season, Head Coach Dustin White said he has elevated expectations for his team.

“I expect our guys to show up with a good attitude and to be prepared,” White said. “A lot of guys played a lot of rounds over the summer, but others are new to the collegiate golf game. I’m looking forward to seeing how we compete in our first tournament of the season. I want to see the team have success, and if we focus on ourselves, I think we will be just fine.”

The women’s team started play on Sunday with a mixture of youthful talent and experienced veterans. Madelyn Gamble started from the No. 1 slot while senior Darcy Habgood and junior Jiye Ham were in the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. Freshman Emily Cadwell (No. 4) and senior Amy Chu (No. 5) completed the lineup for the Cougars for the fall year. 

Senior Jessie Lin also competed as an individual at the Badger Invitational. The Badger Invitational featured an 11-team field consisting of Wisconsin, Iowa, Pepperdine, Indiana, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, Colorado State, Grand Canyon, UC Davis, SMU and WSU.

Entering her 12th season and passing up former coach Walt Williams as the longest-tenured coach in program history, Head Coach Kelli Kamimura said she is excited for the opportunity for the team to compete.

“It’s always fun for us to go to a new course and play in new tournaments,” Kamimura said. “We wanted to make some changes in our schedule to change things up and see some teams that we haven’t competed against over the last several years. We’re excited to get to Wisconsin. It’s always exciting to be able to look at a new course with fresh eyes and to come up with a strategy. The team has been working hard, we’ve had some intense qualifiers, and they’re just ready to compete. We can’t wait to get things started.”

Both squads had good success individually and as a team to start off the year as the men’s team ended up tied for ninth place in the Husky Invitational, while the women’s team placed fifth in the Badger Invitational.

On the women’s end, Gamble made an impressive collegiate debut as she posted a third-place finish. She was also one of the vital causes for the Cougars placing fifth as a team as the freshman carded an even-par 216 through three rounds.

On Tuesday’s third and final round, she ended the tournament with a fantastic performance as she carded a two-over-par 74 to finish in a tie for third on the player leaderboard with Kennedy Pedigo and Katie James of SMU.

As a team, the Cougars shot 883 (+19) during the three days of the tournament at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wisconsin, and ended the first tournament of the 2021 season by carding 298 (+10) in Tuesdays’ third round. The weather during the three days in Wisconsin was partly cloudy, but the Cougars found a way to start off strong for the year. 

Cadwell had a solid debut as well, as she finished in a tie for 14th on the player leaderboard after shooting a five-over-par 221 through three rounds.

She and Habgood tied for the best third-round score for WSU, as both were able to card a 73 (+1) in their final round of play to help the Cougars climb the leaderboard. Habgood had a team-best four birdies in the third round, while Cadwell and Gamble each posted three birdies in the round. 

Ham and Chu ended the team scoring as Ham finished in a tie for 33rd, while Chu finished her day with a tie for 48th. The lone individual, Lin, ended her day as she was able to card 236 (+20). SMU won the tournament as a whole, and Old Dominion’s Federica Torre captured the individual title. 

For the men’s team, Sekulic led the way for the Cougars as he finished in a tie for 15th on the player leaderboard, shooting three-under-par. Sekulic collected three birdies and posted an eagle on the sixth hole to help him finish the third round at two-over-par. 

The Cougars overall as a squad shot an 873 (+9) through three rounds in the Husky Invitational. The sophomore duo of Bebich and Cantafio had a very impressive day in the third round. Both shot a team-best one-over-par in the final round of competition as Bebich finished in a tie for 26th while Cantafio ended the tournament in 52nd place.

Eguchi had five birdies that helped him achieve a tie for 55th, while Wu earned a tie for 69th. Yanagi, Jung and Lydra had a very impressive final round as each carded under-par on their last day in Seattle. Lydra shot a career-best four-under-par in the third round, as he earned seven birdies on the day.

Yanagi carded three-under-par in the third round to help earn him a tie for eighth place in the individual tournament. Jung posted a top-15 finish at the Husky Individual Invitational after shooting one-under-par in Tuesday’s third round.

The host, Washington, won the tournament, and Oregon State’s Brandon Eyre won the individual title. The Cougars had a tie for ninth place with San Diego State on the team leaderboard.

The men’s team compete Oct. 4-5 as they travel traveling to South Bend, Indiana, to play in the Fighting Irish Classic hosted by Notre Dame, while the women’s team compete next week as they travel to Red Sky Golf Club in Wolcott, Colorado, to play in the 2021 Golfweek Conference Challenge.