Senior Emily Lewis knows exactly what’s at stake. Ranked No. 20 in Division III for female golfers nationwide, Lewis said she feels the pressure. But with seven years of golf under her belt and a possible national appearance in the works, Lewis said she welcomes the competition.
“As competitive as I am, there’s always room for improvement,” Lewis said. “I’ve been practicing every day for pretty much three weeks now. I’m in my groove and I’m feeling it.”
Prior to coming to Chapman, Lewis attended University of California, Davis, but didn’t pursue golf. She transferred to Orange Coast Community College as a sophomore, and took up club golf there.
Transferring to Chapman her junior year, she found her comfort zone in the go.
“It was an easy transition for me,” Lewis said. “I really enjoy my teammates. Golf is one of the few sports where both the guys and girls teams practice together and hang out.”
This season, her last on Chapman’s team, Lewis said she exceeded her expectations. Placing sixth in the conference tournament April 6, she aims to set the bar high. With conference championships approaching on April 20 at Brookside Golf Course, head golf coach Ming Lao isn’t worried — he’s confident in Lewis’ work ethic.
If she “stays the course,” Lao said, Lewis has a chance of being asked to making a national appearance for the Division III golf championships May 14 at the Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas.
“She’s a grinder. She practices relentlessly,” Lao said. “She’s good enough and she’s proven it; she just needs to stay on track.”
Lewis attributes much of her success to her older brother, Jeff. Despite their seven year age difference, Lewis said she has never had another personal swing coach — her brother is her biggest mentor. Her brother mentors her every golf move, showing up to Chapman practices and even caddying for her during summer tournaments. Lewis’ competitive nature has motivated her to push herself — she wants to score higher than her brother.
“I want to beat him. I have beat him in nine holes, and that was probably one of the highlights of my golf career. I haven’t done it in 18 yet, so still working on that,” Lewis said.
The women’s golf team was formed three years ago at Chapman and in its short history, it’s moved up to being No. 22 in the nation for NCAA Division III women’s teams. With three nationally ranked players, Lewis at 20, sophomore Lauren Settle at 90 and freshman Kristen Lee at 108, Lao said the team is gaining national respect.
“I’ve got some really qualified candidates coming in 2019,” Lao said. “I need to make sure that we do everything carefully and planned from this moment forward.”
Looking toward the conference championship, Lewis said she plans to treat the tournament like any other. She’s putting her thoughts of graduation in the back of her head, and focusing on her game, she said.
“I need to just relax and keep it as just a normal tournament, not that it’s my last one,” Lewis said.