Women’s golf seeks leadership in upcoming season

Matthew Green

The Sacramento State women’s golf team looks for new leadership this year as they begin the season with the Washington State University Cougar Cup in Pullman, Washington on Monday.

The team will start the season with only two seniors and a young roster that is full of returning sophomores, one junior and a freshman.

“It’s always a challenge when you lose really good seniors,” said women’s golf coach David Sutherland. “We lost a senior last year, Sagee Palavivatana, who had been a really great player and person as well. We lost three seniors last year as well, so certainly any time that you change leadership on a team it presents a challenge.”

Rockelle Sande and Natalie Bodnar will be the only seniors on the roster this year as they both look to lead their team to a conference title.

Bodnar, who missed all of last season with a broken leg, is excited to be back out on the course.

“This season I am really looking forward to being back with the team, traveling a lot and playing,” Bodnar said. “Our goal is not only to win conference but just to be together as a team, work together and hopefully win some tournaments.”

Sande is also looking forward to getting back out on the golf course and believes the key to success this season is to stay focused and consistent.

“The challenge this season is just that it’s a long year,” Sande said. “We compete during the fall and the spring so just keeping that consistency and endurance throughout the year is our goal.”

Sande finished last season with an overall scoring average of 77.50 and had her best tournament at the Cowgirl Desert International in Palm Desert, California where she finished tied for fourth.

They will also have Astha Madan returning. During last season she missed three tournaments while representing India in the Junior World Championships, and in the tournaments in which she did compete, placed in the top five in three of them. She also came away with a victory at the Matador Invitational in Simi Valley, California.

“Astha is just a great kid,” Sutherland said. “[She] is mentally as good as any kid I’ve ever coached; I love her in a big situation. She is certainly capable of winning like she did last year.”

The team also acquired Julia Becker from Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she won the Nevada 1A high school championship two seasons in a row, becoming the first female to win two consecutive championships in the history of the tournament.

Sutherland is aware that Becker is an incoming freshman and doesn’t want her to be burdened this season or carry any pressure as she begins her first collegiate golf experience.

“She has a lot of talent,” Sutherland said. “I see her as a gal in our top five and has certainly played well in her first qualifyings, but Julia is a freshman and any time you have a freshman you have different expectations for them. You in some ways don’t want them to have to carry the number one player burden.”

The goal on the players’ and the coach’s minds is to win the Big Sky Conference this season, and Sutherland expects to take the season slow and take it one tournament at a time.

“I look at golf as a marathon,” Sutherland said. “Nobody ever says good hustle the first mile of a marathon. So we really have a long term picture. Our season isn’t over until May so I really try to coach them up on energy and effort.”

The women had an impressive season last year finishing second in the Big Sky Conference Championship, as well as placing in the top 10 in seven tournaments. They finished the season with an overall team scoring average of 307.58 and an overall GPA above 3.4.

“The ideal way to end my senior season is to win,” Sande said. “To win conference would be such a big thing. That is what I am mainly focused on…we have been so close the past two years I’ve been in the program. As a senior I just want to leave this team having a good year, competing hard, having fun and walking away with the win.”