PSU golf aiming high

Confidence. This team has confidence.
It’s not about, or I should say, entirely about, the inaugural spring season tournament at the Santa Ana Country Club on Feb. 24: This team is thinking about winning the conference, advancing to regionals and then, hopefully, to nationals.
“I’m not satisfied with being the best in conference,” said rookie head coach Kailin Downs. “My sights are not set on the conference alone.”
And indeed they shouldn’t be. Portland State has been crowned Big Sky Conference champs in six of the last 11 seasons, they have the reigning Big Sky player of the year in A Ram Choi, the coaches poll slotted them as the preseason favorite, and last year they finished in a close second place.
“We were playing really well last year and we came in second,” said junior Kelly Miller. “But the team is playing even better this year, so—why not?”
“Why not?” laughed freshman Madison Bentley in agreement.
To Miller and Bentley it is not enough to have won their most recent tournament, the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Intercollegiate hosted by New Mexico State, way back in early October—a tournament where they rallied on the final day to win with the help of Choi shooting a school-record 67—they have no need to relish in one victory.
“I want to see how many more we can win,” Miller said.
For a lot of the golfers at PSU, the school’s winning history was a big part of the reason they decided to come here.
“Golfers want two things,” said Downs. “One: the ability to play…and two: to be part of something successful.”
They are given an opportunity to do both at PSU. “When you come here you can expect to win,” Miller said. “What’s better than that?”
But this confidence, although high, is coupled with eagerness and hard work. “It’s all on paper,” Downs said. “It’s still going to come down to whatever team plays the best for three days,” referring to the conference championship, which runs from April 20–22.
A Ram Choi has not let her recent accomplishments or the high preseason expectations affect her focus. “Being Big Sky player of the year last year makes me feel confident and [adds] a little bit of pressure, but I try not to think about it much and just focus on the task that is given to me,” Choi said.
This mixture of confidence and eagerness seems to be ubiquitous on the PSU golf squad. “I want to beat [Choi],” Bentley said. “It pushes me to be better.”
But confidence and high expectations can be, as a golfer might say, a very tough shot to play. “I think it can be used as a positive—but it can also be used as a negative. We have a lot of opportunity and a lot of hard work,” Downs said.
In the end, though, they are reluctant to set goals: It seems they have no need to envision any kind of ceiling for themselves and their season.
That’s confidence.
If you are interested in following the PSU golf squad and what promises to be a fun season, you can follow them on twitter @VikingsWGolf.