It is always a bittersweet experience for a student-athlete to close out their collegiate career and prepare for the next chapter in their life, but women’s golfer Sagee Palavivatana is up for the challenge.
After competing for Sacramento State for four seasons, Palavivatana played in her final tournament for the university this year at the women’s golf Big Sky Conference Tournament on April 21.
A native from North Highlands, California, Palavivatana was recruited to play golf for Sac State when she graduated Center High School in 2011.
“Her skill as a golfer was obvious at a young age,” said women’s golf coach David Sutherland. “I can remember the first time I saw her, she was maybe in eighth grade or a freshman at a local golf tournament. The first shot I saw her make was about 50 yards out.”
She started playing golf when she was 12 years old after a family friend took her and her dad to play, and her love for the game has grown ever since.
“I just fell in love with it and enjoyed the challenge and the feeling of what it was like to hit the golf ball solid,” Palavivatana said.
As a senior, she competed in every tournament this season and made four postseason appearances for the Hornets. Her top finishes came in 2013 and this season when she tied for fourth in the Rainbow Wahine Invitational and placed second at the Sac State Invitational, respectively.
Her close friend Jesse Ramos said it is clear when she is out on the course that she loves the game. “You can see the passion she has for golf when she is out there playing,” Ramos said.
Upon graduating high school, Palavivatana had a few different options where she could play collegiate golf and Sutherland was aware of her options. He said he was happy when she decided to come to Sac State after a meeting he had with her in July of her senior summer of high school.
“I recruited her for a long time––about five to six months––and it was about in July when she committed,” Sutherland said. “It was really cool because I knew we were getting a good player and a great kid.”
Palavivatana said she chose Sac State for a few reasons, but the main reason was that it was close to home and she knew a full ride scholarship would help her parents financially.
Ramos and Sutherland would agree that Palavivatana is not only a terrific golfer, but a great friend.
“She has one of the biggest hearts, she is always caring for others and is never selfish,” Ramos said.
The senior Hornets’ player said she is going to miss the relationships she made with everyone at Sac State.
“I am going to miss the team dynamic, traveling with the girls, having inside jokes and just creating memories, as well as I am going to miss my coach, he has been really good to me,” Palavivatana said. “I am going to miss playing golf for him.”
Sutherland had a similar response after coaching and traveling with Palavivtana for the last four years.
“I will miss her so much on and off the course, [and] I will miss her as a person so much,” Sutherland said.
This season, Palavivatana etched her name into the Hornets’ record books when she recorded the seventh-best individual low scoring round with her performance during the Sac State Invitational when she shot a 70 on March 16.
Also, the senior is placed 10th on Sac State’s career scoring average books, with her 78.53 average spanning from 2012-15 in 102 rounds. She ended her senior year with a scoring average of 78.15.
Although her collegiate career might be over, Palavivatana hopes to become a professional golfer after she finishes school. She said that she wants to focus on her education right now and when she is done she wants to pursue her dream of becoming a professional.
Palavivatana will graduate this December with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She plans to keep her routine the same as it has always been by playing in local tournaments, working out and eating healthy as she continues to improve daily.
She said she has a large support system, including her friends, family and Sutherland that are behind her dream of trying to become pro.
“She has a lot of will and determination,” Ramos said. “I have seen her play and she is always trying to get better. I think this is definitely something she can accomplish.”
Ramos and Sutherland said Palavivatana’s iron shots are the strongest part of her golf game and are her best asset as a golfer.
“Technically speaking, she is probably as good technically as anyone I have ever coached guy or girl,” Sutherland said. “She can consistently hit her iron shots better than any of her competitors.”
Sutherland believes she has improved tremendously over the years and that her senior spring season that just ended a few weeks ago was probably her best performance yet.