DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Caroline Powers has a very strong gene pool in her corner, and as a result, an equally strong competitive fire.
The Michigan State sophomore shot 1-under 71 Thursday at LPGA International during the opening round of the women’s East Regional, the low score for sixth-seeded Michigan State. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Powers is another in a long line of family members with an above-average athletic gift. In the golf world, the most recognizable of that tribe might be Powers’ cousin Emily Bastel, a former Michigan State All-American who graduated in 2002 and went on to play on the LPGA and Futures tours.
Bastel, who lives in nearby Jacksonville after a short stint as an assistant coach at Duke, made the trip Thursday to watch her cousin play. Bastel says she isn’t sure how much influence she had in Powers’ decision to attend Michigan State, but one has to assume it was significant.
It’s not as if the Powers superpowers stop there, however. Bastel’s brother Ben played golf at Miami of Ohio. Powers’ dad Buddy (whose sister is Emily’s mom) is the hockey coach at Boston University, where he also played collegiately. Her mom Lindy played collegiate golf at Bowling Green, and was followed by siblings Barbara (cross country) and John (golf). There are more cousins on Division I rosters, but Powers only waves her hand – it’s too much to get into.
“My sister just finished up her last year; she’s kind of living vicariously through me now,” Powers said with a big smile that belies her ability to bring a course to its knees. “They’re very supportive, though.”
With a 73.84 scoring average so far during her sophomore campaign, Powers is on pace to break the single-season scoring record at Michigan State. She led the team to a Big Ten Championship with a fourth-place individual finish and is ranked No. 30 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
“Since she got here last year, she’s just been a rock star,” head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said. “She played good the first tournament she was a Spartan, and she’s just played well ever since.”
Aside from good genes, Powers also has the tools for success, Slobodnik-Stoll said.
“She just has a really good, solid mentality to play the game, and nothing really rattles her. She just hits it in the fairway and hits it on the green and a lot of times makes birdies.”
Powers displayed those qualities Thursday as part of the marquee pairing of Auburn’s Cydney Clanton and Arizona State’s Carlota Ciganda. The group was a combined 4 under before the turn but finished at 5 over.
“It was really fun; we were having a good time,” Powers said. “… Carlota was just sinking every putt for the first part of the round, so Cydney and I were like, ‘OK, it’s our turn now.’ ”
As if Powers needed any more motivation.