Oct. 12, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Each week during the 2012-13 season a Maryland student-athlete, who has shown excellence on and off the playing field, will be selected as the Solomon Eye Associates Terp of the Week. This week's Solomon Eye Associates Terp of the Week is Juliet Vongphoumy from the women's golf team. Vongphoumy shot a 4-under 68 to win the individual title and lead Maryland to the team title at the Lady Pirate Invitational on Oct. 8.
By Liz Vlk | Maryland Media Relations Student Assistant
As sophomore Juliet Vongphoumy looked at each of her teammates while they rubbed the noses of their toy Terrapins together, she didn't realize this pre-tournament good luck routine would be the start to her greatest accomplishment as a Maryland golfer.
Vongphoumy, shooting a 4-under 68, placed first in the Lady Pirate Invitational golf tournament that took place on Oct. 8 in Greenville, N.C. The event, which was being played at the par-72, 6,004-yard Greenville Country Club, was shortened to 18 holes due to weather conditions. It is the first tournament that Vongphoumy has won individually in her collegiate golf career.
"I have been playing golf since I was nine years old," Vongphoumy said. "I have always played and been intrigued by different sports, especially basketball, but no sport has ever challenged me like golf has."
Vongphoumy's uncle first introduced her to the game of golf, and some of her fondest memories as a child are playing courses like Metacomet Country Club and Button Hole Golf Course with her family in her hometown of Providence, R.I.
"After playing golf only a few times, I was hooked," Vongphoumy said. "I believe golf is unlike any other sport around. Golf is unusual in that you are competing alone, and as I see it, against yourself. It's tremendously hard to constantly play well, and this challenge to conquer different landscapes and weather conditions is one thing that sets golf apart from all other sports."
This past weekend proved Vongphoumy's theory true, as weather conditions in Greenville were less than ideal. Torrential rain caused the cancellation of the final 36-holes, but Vongphoumy's mental toughness and support from teammates was all she needed to clench the number one spot.
After having two seasons under her belt as a colligate competitor, Vongphoumy's idea of golf has transitioned from what she considered an individual sport in high school to something much more special.
"It was unusual coming from high school where I practiced and played by myself every day," Vongphoumy said. "I also had a lot more free time. College has been a big transition, but in a good way. I feel like I have constant support and my teammates are always there for me; we have a really special bond, something I didn't really experience in junior golf."
Although she now feels the presence and support from her Terrapin teammates, the competition still does not faze Vongphoumy.
"I really do not pay much attention to others I am playing against. I do my best to focus on my own play to make myself better. I get in a zone as I am stepping up the first tee, and from then on I rarely look at the scoreboard."
Vongphoumy is trying to live up to the high level of play she reached during this spring and last fall's competition. Finishing two strokes ahead of Boston College's Cristina McQuiston (70) and three strokes ahead of UNC Wilmington's Lori Beth Adams (71) this past weekend, Vongphoumy is extremely proud of her individual and the team's accomplishments in the Lady Pirate Invitational.
Vongphoumy confessed that her transition from junior golf to the collegiate level has been hard, but the ability to travel around the United States, play against fierce competitors and be surrounded by great people and facilities at Maryland has been more exiting than she ever had imagined.
"Playing at the Division I level is a blessing," Vongphoumy said. "Maryland has given me great opportunities to play courses I would never have had the chance to play. I love the challenge of trying to beat my previous scores; so winning this tournament was great. What was even more special is what I was able to accomplish with my teammates, claiming the 2012 team title."