PARRISH, Fla. – Caroline Powers won’t play the Central District Invitational again. The Michigan State senior is in her final season with the Spartans. Count on Powers’ future being bright – perhaps that’s why she talks about life after Michigan State with much more zeal than head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll does when she imagines a team without Powers.
Powers is on pace to be the most decorated player in Michigan State history. She’s first in scoring average, 74.39, through three seasons, and the accolades continue from there. In short, Powers is a player who could have left her team early to chase a pro career – Michigan State probably needed her the past year more than she needed them.
“I couldn’t be convinced of that,” Powers said of leaving early. “I have the rest of my life to keep playing golf – I really want to live in the moment. I’m going to really miss the team aspect, and that’s something I wouldn’t give up.”
Powers will leave the team better than she found it. In the past three-and-a-half years, Michigan State has consistently held its spot among the top 25 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. It’s among only a handful of cold-weather school to find a place there.
Together with Notre Dame’s Lindsey Weaver (No. 6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings) and Washington’s SooBin Kim (No. 9), Powers (No. 13) is the highest ranked cold-weather player in the country. In Spartan golf history, she’s one of the best players to ever pass through the program.
“She’s just a very unique, interesting person who I think is going to give back to this world in many, many ways – especially in golf,” Slobodnik-Stoll said.
Powers nearly got her third career college victory on Feb. 19, but lost a scorecard playoff with Augusta State’s Natalie Wille. Powers was 3 under through six holes during the final round before finishing with four bogeys. It was a similar day for Powers’ teammates, and the Spartans went a collective 17 over to finish third at their own event.
The good news is it’s February, and there are many early-season lessons to learn from the Central District.
“It’s just part of the game,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “They’re good learning lessons.”
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Nearly four years have passed since Amy Anderson began systematically blowing apart the North Dakota State women’s golf record books, but that trend has to end soon. Anderson graduated in December, and is enrolled in three graduate classes to finish out the spring. Then she’s on to the pros.
Aside from the fact that she and her fellow Bison have a very legitimate shot at claiming their first Summit League Championship in history – Oral Roberts, after winning that title for 14 consecutive years, has moved to the Southland Conference – Anderson has one more shot at another record, albeit an informal one.
The record for most NCAA victories by a single player is not formally kept by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association, but Juli Inkster is believed to have the most with 17 career victories at San Jose State (that number was made up of 15 regular-season titles and two postseason titles). That means Anderson, who earned her 16th career victory in the fall at the Jackrabbit Fall Invitational would need one more win to tie Inkster. Except there’s a catch.
Two of Anderson’s career victories came at the Concordia Cobber Open (in 2009 and 2011), a Division II- and III-dominant field. Not to take away from the competition, Anderson explains, but to truly match Inkster’s record in her mind, Anderson needs three more victories in Division I fields.
“It’s not someting you can really control,” Anderson said of needing to achieve those in her five remaining starts this season (postseason could provide more opportunities). “It’s definitely something that’s motivated me in my practice and given me something to work for.”
Anderson first found out that she had to opportunity to tie Inkster’s career victory count after reading an article written about it. She guesses it was around the time she had 13 or 14 career victories. It’s not something that’s preoccupied her, though she does identify Inkster as one of the most common role models for aspiring female pros. Anderson has not yet met Inkster.
Anderson and North Dakota State start the spring season Feb. 25 at the UC Irvine Invitational. As if Anderson needed any extra incentive, the individual winner of that event gets a sponsor exemption into the LPGA’s Kia Classic.
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Five questions with Rocio Sanchez Lobato, Georgia sophomore from Marbella, Spain, who was co-medalist at the Seminole Match Up on Feb. 17.
1. This is the first team victory since you’ve been at Georgia. What did it feel like?
I’ve been playing a year and a half for Georgia and I feel like we’ve had so many chances to be there, but we never really got there. We were so nervous the last round … and when somebody told us, ‘Hey Georgia, congratulations, you guys won,’ it was just exciting.
2. What did you work on during the winter to come back from a slow fall season?
I basically worked on everything a little bit because I was off in the fall….I felt like I lost all my game, I didn’t have a feeling so I worked hard with my coach back home and (head coach) Josh (Brewer) and (former assistant coach) Lindsay (Hulwick) helped me a lot here and basically my swing. My technique, I had to improve on that and then a little bit on my short game, too.
3. What’s the most important thing you learned from a year on the team with Marta Silva Zamora (the 2011 College Player of the Year)?
She just played with a lot of confidence and was patient on the course. That’s one of the best things about her. She was such a good teammate. She was always there for me if I had a question. You know when you’re a freshman and you’re like kind of lost all the time. She was the person that I would always call.
4. You were runner-up at the Ladies British Amateur. What will you always remember about the final match with Alabama’s Stephanie Meadow?
I will always remember that round. It was really exciting for me to get to the final. I want to get to the point where all I do is just win. It was kind of disappointing for me, but it was such a good day. She played so well that day so I didn’t really have that much of a chance. To win this tournament was like finally, I get to be there. Not second but actually first.
5. You play match play all summer and stroke-play all year for college. Which is your favorite and why?
I feel like I’m more of a match-play person just because the way my game is. I’m more aggressive so match play you can allow yourself to be a little more aggressive because not all the shots count. I feel like that’s maybe one of the reasons I like it more.