Junior golfer Angela Ding has collected several accolades for her performances on the Lehigh women’s golf team.
As a freshman, Ding played 15 competitive stroke play rounds over six tournaments. In her debut as a Mountain Hawk, she tied for 37th with a score of 241 at the Navy Fall Invitational. She also led Lehigh after 36 holes at the Patriot League Championship, and ultimately tied for 12th at 243 after battling for a top-10 position.
Ding was named a second team All-Patriot League honoree in her sophomore campaign, tying for ninth at the Patriot League Championship at 230. She recorded her career-low round at 74 at the Patriot League Championship, and ultimately ranked fourth on the team with an 81.5 average stroke.
She said the mistakes she made in previous tournaments were beneficial in pinpointing adjustments that needed to be made this season. Specifically, coach Mary Kate Lynch has worked with her to improve her physical swing through tuning and refining.
Ding won Patriot League Golfer of the Week on Oct. 23 after finishing third in the Lehigh Invitational. She said her experiences with Lehigh’s golf program over the past two seasons have helped her learn and grow as a golfer, and has proved to be a major key to her success this season.
Now an upperclassman, Ding said her prior seasons at Lehigh also ignited a shift in her mindset.
“This year, I’m not only playing for myself, but also for the team,” Ding said.
While Ding received extensive recognition for her play as an underclassman, earning Patriot League Golfer of the Week was a first for her.
Ding said receiving this recognition was extremely rewarding, especially given the shoes she had to fill following the graduation of Reagan Jahn, one of Lehigh’s most decorated golfers to date. Jahn set a high standard in terms of her accomplishments on the team, and the extensive list of awards she received as a result of them, Ding said.
For Ding, Jahn is a role model.
“I am trying to become what she once was,” Ding said. “So to see that I am making progress toward that is really awesome.”
Ding said she came to Lehigh as a freshman knowing she would contribute to the team. But after playing a few solid rounds, she realized she could develop into one of the more dominant players on the roster.
The only thing she was lacking, she said, was the belief in herself.
“I realized I have so much potential and was only limiting myself by my lack of confidence,” Ding said.
Many factors can be attributed to Ding’s success so far — long hours of training, natural athleticism and the ability to perform under pressure — but Ding said her status as a “very superstitious golfer” is a major part of her game.
Every time Ding birdies a hole, she switches the golf ball for the next shot. She said she also listens to Jack Johnson or Beethoven to get herself into a “calming rhythm” before playing.
Looking ahead, Ding said the increased freshmen presence will be beneficial for the team’s growth. Freshman players constitute four of the team’s seven roster members, and Ding said the talent they already bring to the table, and the developments they will see as they gain more experience, offer a promising future for the program.
“We are a really young team,” Ding said. “Once they realize how skillful they are, and how much potential they have, the freshman will come together to hopefully help us win the Patriot League,” Ding said.
Senior Rebecca Markunas echoed Ding’s sentiment, adding that despite the stark age differences within the roster members, the team’s chemistry is strong.
“We have been getting along very well even though it is a younger team,” Markunas said. “They (freshmen) are looking very strong with some incredible new talent.”
Lynch said the young team’s improvement so far is a testament to the great leadership from the upperclassmen. Despite the tough competition ahead, she said she believes in the team’s abilities.
“Our league is incredibly strong, but I know we have the talent to make it happen,” Lynch said.
The Mountain Hawks will spend the next several months developing their play before competing in the Patriot League Championship Apr.18-20.