The Quinnipiac women’s golf team keeps improving each time it hits the links. They have a bright future, in large part to two new freshman golfers, Jenn Whaley and Krissy Unger.
After setting program records the first time they stepped on the course, the duo lowered their scores in their second competitive round this past weekend at the Dartmouth Invitational.
The nerves seemed to take a back seat and the golf did the talking. An amazing accomplishment for the Quinnipiac golf program was recorded when Whaley carded a birdie on the 14th hole and followed it up with the first eagle in program history on the 15th hole.
Quinnipiac finished round one at a combined 329, setting the best team round in program history. On Sunday at the Dartmouth Invitational, Whaley broke two more program records, firing a 76 (+4), good for the lowest round in program history. Whaley’s 78 (+6) on Saturday produced a 154 (+10), the best 36-hole score in program history. Whaley also posted the first top-10 individual finish in program history.
“This is an extremely difficult course,” Quinnipiac head coach John O’Connor said. “I’m proud of my athletes…we had four athletes playing on this course for the first time and came away with the best team round in program history. Whaley’s 14th and 15th holes were brilliant and Kayla was awesome.”
Senior Kayla Ketcheson recorded the best round in program history with a 78 (+6) before Whaley topped her with a 76 (+4) on Sunday. Unger tied Ketcheson for best single round all-time when she also carded a 78 on the afternoon. Ketcheson finished with a total score of 165 (78-87).
“I was very happy with our effort this weekend,” O’Connor said. “With seven birdies, and an eagle on the first day; and five birdies on the second day, the team showed a lot of promise.”
Unger continued her solid play at Dartmouth carding an 81 (+9) in round one. Unger got off to a rocky start shooting a front-nine 42, but finished well down the stretch and firing a 38 on the back nine. Unger had a two day total of 159 (+15) marking the first time Quinnipiac had two golfers with sub-160 rounds and three golfers finished at 165 or lower.
On Sept. 9th and 10th, the team competed at the Tignanelli Towson Invitational in Phoenix, Md. Competing in their first collegiate golf tournament, Unger and Whaley impressed O’Connor.
“Jenn and Krissy bring a different feel to the team,” O’Connor said. “They have a lot of experience in the Northeast. … Jenn and Krissy are extremely comfortable out there and both very confident.”
While being on the first tee in your first college golf match can be nerve racking, Unger realizes that there was a lot to learn in her first competitive match.
“It was really fun and we had a great experience there,” Unger said. “It was such a great learning process to go out and see what the competition of play is going to be like and how these tournaments run. We figured it out and had some fun with it today.”
Indeed, they did have fun as Unger fired a 163 (82-81), which, at the time, broke Ketcheson’s previous program record of a two-day total of 166 (81-85) at last April’s Hartford Invitational. Whaley moved into second place on the school record, carding a two-day aggregate of 164 (81-83). Unger and Whaley share third place for lowest single rounds with pairs of 81.
“The first day I played, I played one of the best rounds I’ve played in a long time,” Whaley said. “I was very nervous going into the day and I had a rough first hole. We had a long wait between the first and second holes and my teammates, coach and everybody kind of calmed me down and relaxed me. That was a big deal and I got my comfort level where I needed it to, going into the rest of the tournament.”
Whaley experienced the same first tee jitters as well.
“I had the same thing with her getting up on the first and being nervous and hitting the first shot,” Unger said. “Getting it out of the way was the best feeling.”
While nerves did play a role, Whaley and Unger will just focus on golf and the next shot, O’Connor explained.
“They were extremely nervous but I am certain they won’t be this nervous this time around and it will strictly be just golf,” O’Connor said. “Instead of focusing on their nerves and controlling that they will focus on each shot and there’s not doubt the scores will be good.”
Ketcheson is one of two upperclassmen on the team along with Jennifer Forlenza. Ketcheson understands that having two freshmen who can score well takes some pressure off her.
“It’s really great. It helps me focus on my game a lot more rather than trying to help the other girls,” Ketcheson said. “But they [have] a lot better handle on their own game and they are a lot more developed as well. I can let [Whaley and Unger] run free … knowing that I can trust them allows me to focus on my game a lot more which in the end benefits everyone.”
O’Connor believes that playing in the Northeast Conference will help the Bobcats because Whaley and Unger are familiar with the golf courses and they have played in many competitive tournaments at the high school level throughout the Northeast and New England.
Unger, a New York native, won the New York City Championship as well as the Metropolitan Junior Golf Match Play Championship. She was also named the MET PGA Player of the Year and won the 2011 and 2012 Suffolk Girl’s Golf Championship. Whaley also holds numerous accolades in her high school career. Whaley, a Farmington, Conn., native, was a four-year letterwinner in golf, but more importantly was a four-year all-conference, all-state and three-time all-New England selection. She also posted a 14-1 record in match-play competition as a senior.
“It’s like building a business we started the first year with some good foundation and last year bringing in Kayla was huge for the program,” O’Connor said. “It showed people in the conference we’re here to stay. We are going to get better and then adding Jenn and Krissy, [who] are both very well known in the Northeast. They have been in many tournaments and the coaches are paying attention. The younger girls that have played with Krissy and Jenn all want to be a part of this.”