Freshman finishes strong at NCAA women’s golf tournament

Shweta Galande

Shweta Galande is UMSL's first woman golfer to qualify for the NCAA Division II national tournament.

Going to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Women’s Golf Championships could be daunting for an experienced senior golfer. For Shweta Galande, a freshman at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, it was challenging and exciting.

“The experience at the nationals is something that I’m going to cherish throughout my golf career,” Galande said in an e-mail message after returning to her hometown, New Delhi, India, following the tournament. “It was like a boost to my confidence, and it is going to help me stay motivated for the years to come.”

Galande, the first member of UMSL’s women’s golf team to qualify for the national tournament, finished in a tie for 27th place at the championships, held May 12-15 at the Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. She saved her best round for last, shooting a 3-over-par 74 on the final 18 holes to move up in the final standings from a tie for 36th place. She finished with an overall score of 311 (80-80-77-74).

UMSL coach James Earle said Galande approached a challenging course with intelligence and determination.

“The course was … a true desert course,” Earle said. “Our game plan was to stay out of the desert and attack the pins that we could. But that changed as the course dried out and got firmer and firmer. Once we decided to play to the front yardage of the greens and ignore the pin locations, Shweta started to shoot up the leader board.”

Galande qualified for the national tournament by sinking a six-foot putt for par to win a playoff hole at the NCAA East Regional on May 4 over Jess Dooley of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. It was a fitting finish to a great first season in the Great Lakes Valley Conference for Galande, Earle said.

“Shweta’s performance was unlike any freshman the GLVC has ever seen,” he said. “Week in and week out, she competed for medalist honors. She made her presence known the first time she competed.”

Earle said the 2009-10 team excelled higher than any other team in school history, and Galande, along with her teammates, played exceptional. This season saw the team record three first-place tournament finishes.

After helping the golf team to one of its most successful seasons ever, Galande said she’s hopeful that better things lie ahead.

“I would definitely love to make it to the nationals next year,” she said. “My focus, however, is to keep beating my own score and continuously performing better than the previous tournaments.”

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