Golf, NCAA, Sports

Notebook: Golf looks toward NCAA championship behind veteran core

If one were to look at Boston University golf head coach Bruce Chalas’ schedule, they would see an event circled from May 20-25: the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship. It is the first time the two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year has added this date to the calendar in his 14 seasons with the program.

Led by team captain senior Hanako Kawasaki, the Terriers had a very successful fall campaign and have built upon that in the spring. With each player averaging between 70 and 81 average strokes along with 16 combined top-ten finishes, the BU golf team is on its way to its goal.

WGOLF Notebook
The Boston University women’s golf team. The Terriers have continued their strong fall campaign behind team captain Hanako Kawasaki this spring, and are on the way to achieving their goal of the NCAA championship. COURTESY OF BOSTON UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

Fall season aided early team development

The fall season for golf provides an opportunity for veteran players to shake the dust off and for young players to get primed with collegiate experience. Boston University opened up its fall season on September 12 and 13 with the William & Mary Fall Invitational in Williamsburg, Virginia. The team netted a fourth-place finish behind the top-ten performances of sophomore Flair Kuan and Kawasaki, a harbinger of the tandem’s future dominance.

The Terriers closed out the fall season in dominant fashion at the Sacred Heart University Fall Classic where they placed first by nine strokes. Kuan led the pack with a fourth-place finish at +4 with both Kawasaki and freshman Christy Chen right behind tied for 5th place at +5. This made it BU’s fourth straight season placing first at a tournament.

Chalas reflected on the fall season and the team’s historic 295 stroke average.

“We had a fantastic fall season. Scoring-wise, it was probably the best we ever had in our history,” Chalas said. 

Due to the difficulty of getting practice swings past October, in the offseason, BU uses the indoor golf facility at Case Athletic Center equipped with a TrackMan simulator and a putting green.

“It’s a real testament to the girls, their willingness to want to do that,” Chalas said.

Veterans lead strong young core

Leading the team as both the captain and one of the top players on the leaderboard is Kawasaki. She has been highly decorated throughout her career with the Terriers, winning the 2019 Patriot League Golfer of the Year, 2019 Patriot League Rookie of the Year and receiving two All-Patriot League First Team honors. This season, Kawasaki has played in every tournament for the team with 4 top 5 finishes and 13 rounds at par or under. 

Another high-level player for the Terriers has been Kuan, who has been neck-and-neck with Kawasaki on the leaderboards all season. In her freshman season, she earned First Team All-Patriot League honors and a second-place finish in the Patriot League Championship. This season she has recorded four top 5 finishes and the lowest stroke average on the team.

“They’ve been certainly leading the team, very consistent players,” Chalas said. “They both have a high desire to want to win just as other players do. It’s just great to have a four-year player like Hanako and a two-year player like Flair leading the charge.”

This veteran leadership is crucial for developing the team’s two freshmen, Chen and Victoria Takai. Both Chen and Takai have played well in support of the team’s success thus far. Chen has played in every tournament this season and ranks third on the team in stroke average at 76.30. Takai earned a top ten finish at the Sacred Heart University Fall Classic and has a 78.55 stroke average.

“It’s always interesting starting two freshmen but they responded well and we’re playing well,” Chalas said. “I’m really optimistic on the future of BU golf. We look like we’re going to be in good shape.”

Momentum leads team towards goals

BU began its spring season at the Columbia Classic on Feb. 13-14 in Melbourne, Florida, where it faced off against intense competition, including the University of Illinois, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, which all rank in the top 25 schools in the nation. The team placed 11th in the 14 team field with Kuan leading the way finishing twelfth at +6. 

“That might have been one of the best fields we’ve ever competed in,” Chalas said. “That’s what makes you better is to be able to play top competition and that helps you get your game going.”

Most recently, the team placed second at the Babs Steffens Invitational in Daytona Beach, Florida where Kuan tied as the runner-up at +5, Chen placed fifth at +6 and Kawasaki tied for tenth at +9. 

“This team’s got a lot of mojo,” Chalas said. “I will say this team is very goal-driven and has a high degree of wanting to succeed.”

The team will close out the regular season at the Hoya Invitational hosted by Georgetown on April 9-10 before they will have their run at the postseason, starting with the Patriot League Championship. 

“I like our momentum,” Chalas said. “I like our positioning. The girls are working real hard in their golf game and school too.”

The winner of the Patriot League will compete at the NCAA Regionals on May 13-15. A high-caliber performance at regionals will bring the Terriers to the promised land, the NCAA Championship in Scottsdale, Arizona, which would be the first time in program history.

“I’m excited for the Patriot League to come up, anxious all year, want to compete, want to win the Patriot League, want BU to be in the NCAA regionals and potentially the finals,” Chalas said. “We’re excited to play.”

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