For the first time in 26 years, the Amherst College women's golf team will have a new face at the helm of its program as interim head coach Mike Valentine '05 takes the reins following Michelle Morgan's retirement. In addition to a new coach, the 2015-16 campaign also marks the inaugural NESCAC season.
Despite the departure of Morgan, and two senior class members from a year ago - CJ Bernstein '15 and Katherine Britt '15 - the Purple & White returns a bevy of talent and experience from a team that showed consistency all year long. Returning to this year's squad will be two senior captains, three juniors, and one sophomore, as well as three first-years.
The 2015-16 campaign gets underway this Saturday, Sept. 19 with the two-day NYU Invitational. The remaining fall schedule features the Mount Holyoke Invitational (Sept. 26-27), the Middlebury Invitational (Oct. 3-4), the NESCAC Championship in conjunction with the Williams Fall Invitational (Oct. 10-11), and the Wellesley Invitational (Oct. 17-18).
Veterans Devyn Gardner '16 and Sarah Ressler '16 will serve as co-captains this season, and look to build off impressive junior campaigns. Gardner was a key contributor a year ago, and finished second on the team twice in eight tournaments. Her season was highlighted by a 12th-place finish at the Williams Spring Invitational in which she shot a season-low, two-day score of 165 (82-83). Ressler wrapped up the 2014-15 season on a strong note as well, and finished tied for 21st in the Williams Spring Invite. After cutting 12 strokes off her day one score, she carded a total of 174.
Highlighting the Jeffs' lineup will be two-time Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholar and WGCA All-East Region selection, Jamie Gracie '17. Gracie has made her mark as one of the top women's players in the country, and last year, she was just one of six individuals to be selected to the NCAA Division III Championships. A stellar sophomore season featured six top-five overall finishes in eight tournaments. She also posted the lowest individual score by a Jeff in all eight of those tournaments, which was highlighted by a first-place overall finish at the two-day Mount Holyoke Invitational. After shooting a 76 on day one, Gracie cut four strokes off her score the following day to finish with a season-low, two-day score of 148.
In addition to her incredible performance at the Mt. Holyoke Invitational, Gracie also placed second overall at the Ann S. Batchelder Invitational with a two-day score of 150 (77-73), and claimed third in the single day Jack Leaman Invitational with a score of 77. At the NCAA Championship, the sophomore carded a four-day score of 324 (85-80-79-80) to finish tied for 25th in the 110-player field.
Amherst also has the luxury of bringing back sophomore Zoe Wong, who had a stellar first-year campaign in Purple & White. Wong was named a WGCA All-American Scholar as well, and finished second on the team in six of the Jeffs' eight tournaments. She began her collegiate career on a strong note and posted a season-low score in her first-ever tournament, carding a two-day mark of 158 (78-80) at the NYU Invitational. The following weekend, she posted her second lowest score of the season with a 159 (80-79) to finish in a tie for eighth-place.
Adding talent and depth to bolster Amherst's lineup are veterans Angelina Guan '17 and Patricia Huang '17. Guan was a consistent performer for the Jeffs as a sophomore a year ago, and finished third on the team twice; the NYU Invitational (178-89-89) and Ann S. Batchelder Invitational (186-99-87). However, she carded her lowest two-day score of the year at the Middlebury Invite with a 176 (87-89) to finish tied for 26th. Huang looks to build on a strong sophomore season as well, in which she shot
under 180 twice. At the Middlebury Invite, Huang posted a two-day score of 175 (86-89) to finish tied for 24th, and carded a season-low 174 (89-85) in the spring at the Vassar Invitational.