In less than a year, freshmen Yugene Lee and Alyssa Shimel have grown from high school stars to important contributors on the Michigan women’s golf team.
This past weekend at the Rio Verde Invitational, Lee finished as Michigan’s top performer and Shimel finished with the team’s third best performance, building on an already successful spring season and a solid fall campaign where Lee started 3-of-5 contests and Shimel started all five — one of three Wolverines to do so.
Their on-the-course achievements are particularly impressive in light of the fact that they have had to learn to adjust to college life while being immediately thrust into crucial roles on a Division I college golf team.
“The hardest part of the transition was just getting use to being independent, without my family and friends,” Lee said.
Added Shimel: “It’s been difficult to learn how to manage my time. And the college game is much more competitive.”
While both Lee and Shimel felt they could have performed better during their fall season, they’ve overcome many of their early transitional difficulties and have started to hit their strides as they head into the most important part of the season. The duo helped lead Michigan to a third place finish at Rio Verde with strong early round performances — Lee shot a career best 70 in the first round and Shimel opened with a 74. Both believe that those performances are indicative of things to come.
“How I performed the first couple rounds at Rio Verde is what I expect from myself here on out,” Lee said.
However, despite their successes, they emphasized the need to continue improving. Lee cited the need to improve her physical strength and distance, as well as her mental toughness and her ability to manage courses. Shimel hopes to improve her consistency and her short game.
Their high expectations are a reflection of the ambitious and determined attitudes the young golfers have developed as they’ve grown into their roles on the team. They’re also a reflection of the high goals they’ve set for themselves, the team and the next few years.
“We want to make NCAAs and become All-Americans eventually,” Lee said. “We want to win the Big Ten team championship and qualify as a team to NCAAs.”
Though their goals are ambitious, the freshmen duo has proven that they have both the talent and the work ethic necessary to excel.