Athlete’s Voices: Kylie Strijek, Episode 2. Siena Golf, “Lucky #13″
DoubleGSports.com has partnered with some local athlete’s to develop this great column titled, Athlete’s Voices. In this column, some of your favorite local athletes will share their lives with you, both on and off the playing surface. Each athlete will post a blog, once a month, updating you on their latest happenings. Today’s post is by Kylie Strijek, a member of the Siena College Women’s Golf Team. Follow Kylie as she will post a blog on the tenth of every month…
The time had finally come: MAAC Championship weekend. After a difficult spring season with cold conditions, we were greeted with warm Florida sunshine on that Thursday, something we had not seen for a while.
This event is always my favorite of the year. Who doesn’t love spending the weekend in Walt Disney World AND playing golf? We arrived in Orlando on Thursday and played our practice round that afternoon. The tournament was held on Disney’s Palm course, one of three courses on the property.
Although we played the same course one year ago, it looked much different this year. Arnold Palmer, the new manager of the Disney courses, came in and completely re-designed the whole course in summer 2013, including rebuilding greens, adding and removing bunkers and moving tee-boxes. All of these adjustments completely changed the look and feel of the entire course, leaving us to play an entirely new course than the year before.
Friday began round one. After a quick warm-up on the fog-coated range, we were off. Despite our early tee time, it got hot very quickly. The thick Florida air was as hot as our first round, giving our team the lead by 21 shots. I led the field after shooting 75 in round one.
After the round, we headed to the most magical place on earth: Walt Disney World. We hit Magic Kingdom that afternoon and enjoyed both the rides and the beautiful weather. After meeting Woody and Jessie, we had dinner in Epcot and headed back to the hotel to rest up for round 2.
Our leads continued to grow in round 2; the team led by 31 and I had the lead by six. We headed out again to the parks, this time going to Hollywood Studios, where we went on the Tower of Terror and Rock N’ Rollercoaster, two of the best rides in Disney. After having another great day enjoying the magic of Disney, we were ready to finish off the tournament and bring home the win.
Despite a turbulent third round, both my team and myself came out on top. It was the team’s thirteenth championship in fourteen years and sent us back to the NCAA tournament for a second time. I was the recipient of the McLeod Memorial Award as the individual champion, my second collegiate tournament win, and was the tenth individual champion for the Saints in MAAC history.
This tournament win was especially important to me, considering I missed half of the spring season with a wrist and back injury. Despite missing three weeks of competitive play, I managed to keep my game sharp and took the time to work on mental strategies and analyzing the golf course in the weeks before the event. My wrist held up during the first two rounds, and despite showing some signs of weakness in the final round, I held on long enough to secure the Championship.
We were not looking forward to returning to the cold air of New York. Luckily, the selection show on Monday told us our next location: Oklahoma! We were placed in the central regional location and selected to play Oklahoma State University’s golf course, Karsten Creek Golf Club, which is the top collegiate course in the country. The next week could not go by fast enough.
After over a week of waiting, we were Oklahoma bound and headed for warm weather once again. That Wednesday was one of the longest days in my collegiate golf career. After taking a 6:30 a.m. flight out of Albany, we arrived in Oklahoma City at 11:00 a.m. central time and looked forward to another hour of traveling to reach Stillwater, the home of OSU. We arrived just in time for our 1:20 p.m. tee time for our practice round and what a sight we had ahead of us. Karsten Creek is by far one of the most beautiful golf courses I have ever seen. The course challenges players in all aspects of their game and penalizes severely if any piece is sub-par (excuse the golf pun). It was the home of NCAA Championships in the past, holding a men’s golf championship in 2003 and 2011. Despite the challenge, the course is extremely fair and will reward players who can mentally overcome the obstacles it presents.
After two rounds, our team sits in 24th place. I, unfortunately, was unable to complete my round and withdrew after round 2. Despite ending my collegiate career in this fashion, I am extremely pleased with my senior season, having won two tournaments and playing at some of the best courses in the world. Playing collegiate golf for Siena College has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I will never forget.
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