Chapman’s golf season came to an end April 19 at the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Championships with the women’s team finishing fourth and senior Emily Lewis tying for seventh place after three rounds at the Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena, California.
Despite the competitive atmosphere at the tournament, Lewis said she felt “comfortable” but, when playing her final hole, she battled emotions. Since it was the last championship tournament of Lewis’ career, she said the “gloomy” weather seemed to mirror her mood, serving as a melancholy backdrop for the day’s lively events. But she had her friends, parents, coaches and teammates cheering her on.
“When I got to hole 18, there were about 50 to 60 people watching me on the green,” Lewis said. “They were all yelling for me and they were the loudest people out there. That made the experience extra special.”
Fueled by their encouragement, Lewis, a business administration and accounting major, scored a six-over 78. She finds out May 6 if she will progress to nationals.
The team’s head coach Ming Lao said that Lewis “played like a hero.” Sophomore business administration major Lauren Settle attributed Lewis’ performance to her laser-focused attention attitude.
“She’s very serious on the golf course. She wants to win,” Settle said. “There’s no laughing or joking around during a tournament.”
For some other players on the team, though, scores at the recent conference championships felt less satisfactory. Settle, freshman business administration major Sydnee DiMascio and freshman kinesiology major Kristen Lee all said they felt “disappointed” by their performances. Settle, DiMascio and Lee finished at 21st, 38th, and 25th on the leaderboard respectively.
DiMascio said her biggest challenge at the tournament was maintaining her self-assurance.
“If I have a bad round, it takes me a while to get my confidence back,” DiMascio said. “There were a couple of times where I would freak out because I felt like I was doing so bad.”
Lewis, too, faces bouts of self-doubt and nerves when competing, she said. Before playing, she said she always listens to Ludovico Einaudi’s classical piano piece “Nuvole Bianche” to ease her mind.
“It calms me down. In other sports, you want to get pumped up and get your adrenaline going, but for me, for golf, I need to relax,” Lewis said.
Despite the team’s camaraderie, senior communication studies major Marisa Bhanubandh said that golf is ultimately an individual sport because it’s up to each player to put in the work to succeed. In the month leading up to championships, Lewis said she practiced each day for at least two hours on the Tustin Ranch Golf Course.
“We have team practices once or twice a week, but I was out on the course seven days a week,” Lewis said. “I wanted to make sure I made the time to put in the effort I needed to play well at championships.”
Now, Lewis said she feels like all her hard work paid off — she has a strong chance of going to nationals May 14-17 in Houston, Texas since she placed seventh, Lao said. In the meantime, Lewis said she will continue practicing.
“It’s a waiting game. It’s a little stressful that it’s out of my control,” Lewis said. “But Chapman has never had a golfer go to nationals before, so it would be really cool to be the first one to do it.”