As the saying goes, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. The Gonzaga women’s golf team put that into action last Tuesday in their final round of the fall season, shooting a school record. As a team, they finished three under par at 285 in the final round of the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown.
Freshman Jessica Mangrobang and sophomore Bianca Pangdanganan shot career-bests in the final round. Mangrobang shot two under par on the day, finishing with seven birdies. This topped her previous career-best by four strokes. If it weren’t for the five bogies she shot on the day as well, she would have finished toward the top of the leaderboard.
“I had four bogies that were so stupid, just because I couldn’t get up and down from just short of the green or just off of the green,” Mangrobang said. “So I could have improved a lot on that. And then when I saw my statistics overall, it was still up and downs.”
Head Coach Brad Rickel says he knew Mangrobang was going to have a big day just by the way she was warming up.
“I told Jessica [Mangrobang] on the range, ‘You’re going to shoot the lowest round of your career today, congratulations’,” Rickel said. “I knew she was ready to go.”
Pangdanganan has been on the verge of shooting some really big rounds all season long. Tuesday is when it finally all came together. She shot a 69 on the day, three under par, and finished at tied for 28th on the tournament, the highest spot of any GU golfer. It was the first tournament this year that senior Ciera Min was not the highest finisher for the Zags.
“We talked about that it was our last round of the fall, and we’re not going to play another tournament together for another four months,” Rickel said. “We all wanted to be fully locked in every way, and our personality needed to reflect that we were all in, and I think they did a good job of accepting that and being in the moment.”
The conclusion of the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown brings the conclusion of the fall season for the Zags. Now they will begin training for spring season. According to Coach Rickel, the Zags are only allowed two hours of practice time per week with the coaches. There will be two one-hour golf practices per week for the team. Besides this, the players will have workouts and meetings to continue preparing.
“They have plenty of access to practice on their own, as much as they want,” Rickel said. “We’ll do what we normally do, have one day of short game and one day of long game, have some meetings to talk about how we can get better, and that’s kind of how it goes until mid-January.”
The Zags were one of the youngest teams in the West Coast Conference this fall season. With just one senior on the roster, there were some definite growing pains along the way. It took time for the new freshmen to adjust to the college level and the sophomores were still finding their stride. Despite all this, there were many bright spots for the young Zags that offer a lot to build on.
Along with the recent success of Pangdanganan and Mangrobang, sophomore Jena Gao had some big moments, including converting a hole-in-one at the Pat Lesser Harbottle Invite in early October. Gao says she needs to improve many aspects of her game for spring, especially the mental aspect. But that moment in the season was big for her.
“I was shocked. I was not prepared for a hole-in-one,” Gao said. “I hit the shot, and then my assistant coach and I both used our range finders, but couldn’t find any ball. I kind of had a little bit of a thought that it might have gone in, but I doubted myself. Then when we got to the green, I walked up to the hole and it was in. And I was like, ‘No way!’”
Coach Rickel knows that the biggest thing for his squad going forward is the consistency. There were many big moments throughout fall, but these big moments were often cancelled out by poor plays later on. If they are to become an elite team, Rickel says consistency is the key.
“We need to realize that from the first hole to the last hole, we have to be the same. We have to be completely all-in every round,” Rickel said. “I really just want us to show a maturity of having one semester behind us, and a consistency of how we go about our business.”
The Zags’ first tournament of spring play will be in Seal Beach, California on Feb. 27.
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