The South Carolina women's golf team made quite the statement to begin the spring down in Tallahassee, Florida for the Florida State Match-Up. The Gamecocks led after the first day, and eventually used a program-record 847 (-17) to claim a second place finish at the event.
"We didn't come away with the win, but I'm really excited about the way the team started," head coach Kalen Anderson said. "It's a good building point for the spring, and definitely something we can work off of. I'm very pleased with the performance."
South Carolina is led by star senior Katelyn Dambaugh, who turned down professional golf to return to the team this spring. However, Anderson has been excited to see the improvement of the other golfers on the team.
Freshman Ana Pelaez came into the spring much-improved, and her head coach knew that if she played in a tournament like she had been practicing so far, she could have a special outing. In the first outing of the spring in Florida, Pelaez finished second place in a packed field.
"I could definitely see it out of Ana when she got back," Anderson said. "My thought was, 'This girl is going to be in contention to win a tournament if she settles her mind right.'"
Overall, South Carolina had four golfers finish in the top 10 of the opening event, which shows how special the Gamecocks can be if everyone is clicking at the same time.
"If we can keep building on that, we're going to see some really great things late in the spring," Anderson said.
The Gamecocks have a couple of events to start the spring before having more than three weeks off from competition in March. It is a long break, but it will allow Anderson and her team to reevaluate where everyone is after the first part of spring and get ready for the home stretch later in the month and into April.
"It allows us to kind of see where we are and work on a few things," Anderson said.
One thing that Anderson has noticed ever since the spring is that her players want to do whatever it takes to be successful. That seems like an obvious thing for a player to want, but some teams have it and some just don't.
For Anderson, she doesn't have to chase her players around and make sure they are doing things right. Instead, the golfers come to the head coach and look for things they can do to improve themselves and the team.
"The exciting thing is that we have a core group that is extremely motivated," Anderson said. "I don't have to be on this group at all. They want it, and they're coming to me with ideas. I really haven't had a group that is that excited about getting better and wanting to be the best that they can be."
**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**