It is a typical February day at the Lewiston Golf and Country Club with grim, gray skies and a slight but chilly breeze making its presence known to golfers. A group of golfers converse as they meander through the parking lot en route to the clubhouse, but they are scarcely noticed by Alivia Brown, if at all. Brown, a sophomore golfer for the WSU women’s golf team, bends at the waist, leans on her driver with one hand and tees up her own ball with the other before stepping back to eyeball the fairway on the tenth hole.
As Brown settles into her stance adjacent the tee, her head raises slightly, as she takes one last glance at the fairway before refocusing on the small white orb at her feet. In one swift, vigorous fluid motion Brown’s hands lead her momentum back, slightly pauses, and drives all her kinetic motion through the head of the club into the ball as her momentum shifts from her right leg to her left, hands flying high on the follow-through. Her head rises and eyes follow the flight of the screaming projectile, landing hundreds of yards away, dead center of the fairway as the ball rolls to a rest. There is no look of celebration, no glance of admiration, just a slight flash of satisfaction from her steely-eyed gaze as she pulls another ball out of her pocket, tees it up and readies herself to repeat her sequence once again.
A mere year and a half into her college career and already Brown’s name can be found all over the Washington State record books. Brown finished her freshman season with eight top-25 finishes in eleven tournaments, which tied the school record for the most as a freshman golfer. She averaged a score of 74.74 strokes per round, another freshman record and good enough for the fifth best average in school history. Her lowest round of 68 tied for the second-lowest round in school history and her dual 71s Brown carded at regionals was tied for the lowest postseason round.
After the completion of the regular season, Brown competed as an individual and finished sixth in the NCAA regionals at St. George, Utah and earned an invitation to the NCAA nationals as well last summer. Showing no regard for sports superstitions, she has completely disregarded a potential sophomore slump. During the fall season, Brown averaged 73.20 strokes per round, which would set the all-time record for the university.
Despite the accolades and the records already in hand, Brown isn’t focused on her accomplishments, choosing to focus on the upcoming challenges in her career.
“There’s certain things you get to enjoy about it, and to smile about, because it means your hard work is paying off,” said Brown. “But in the grand scheme of things, it’s more motivation to keep going and to keep focusing on the process.”
Three of the next four tournaments for the WSU women’s golf team will be tournaments and courses the team competed on last year, starting off in Peoria, Arizona on February 21 in the Westbrook Spring Invitational. Last year, Brown recorded a tenth-place finish in the tournament, carding a one-under score of 215.
“It’s always a challenge to play a course, no matter if you’ve played it before or not,” Brown said. “But the nice thing is you can take your game plans you made the previous year and just adjust it for this year.”
After a three-month layoff, the WSU’s women’s golf team teed off in the Westbrook Spring Invitational as part of a 15-team field. While the team finished last with a score of 887 (+23), 33 shots behind tournament winner Oregon, the Cougs finished within six shots of Nebraska, College of Charleston and Indiana.
Brown finished this year’s tournament with a score of 217 (+1) but finished in a tie for 23rd place in a much more competitive field.
When the NCAA women’s golf national rankings were released on Wednesday, the rankings showed how competitive the Pac-12 is, placing seven entries in the top-25. USC led the way with a No.1 ranking, followed by No.6 UCLA, No.9 UW, No.11 Stanford, No.`12 Arizona, No.14 California, and No.15 ASU. Rounding out the Pac-12 teams were No.27 Oregon, No. 29 Colorado, No.68 WSU and No.76 OSU.
The women’s golf team will be looking to maintain their strong start as a whole, as the team averaged 296.20 strokes per round during the first half. The current team record for lowest average tournament score is 299.45 strokes, set just last season under Head Coach Kelli Kamimura. As noted, Brown leads the way with an average of 73.20 strokes, although teammate Cherokee Kim is right behind her with an average of 73.53 strokes per round. WSU’s women’s golf record is held by Anastasia Kostina, who carded an average round 73.82 strokes during the 2005-06 season.
After the first tournament of the spring, both the team and Brown picked up right where they left off in November. The team’s score of 887 equates to an average round of 295.67, lowering its cumulative season score to 296.11. Meanwhile in her three rounds, Brown carded scores of 74, 70 and 73 (72.33 round average) scored a cumulative 217 (+1) for the tournament. Her season averaged dropped from 73.20 to 73.06 with five tournaments to play. Kim’s three rounds of identical 75s raised her overall average to 73.78, but she too remains on pace to beat Kostina’s mark.
As the spring season unfolds, Brown sounds eager to compete against the quality competition in each tournament.
“I get to go out and play golf every day,” said Brown. “Not everyone gets to do that. I had a lot of fun playing and got to compete against the best people in the country, and I’m hoping to do the same this year. I just need to keep working on what I’ve been doing the past year.”