Athlete of the Week: freshman Ava Lourenco quietly becoming school’s best women’s golfer
The pressures of competing at an elite level can be overwhelming. Players across the board of collegiate and professional sports have been known to succumb to those pressures in critical moments and fall short of a goal, victory or championship opportunity.
Freshman women’s golfer Ava Lourenco has little trouble with that, if at all.
When asked if she knew she was in contention to win at last week’s Cal State San Marcos Fall Classic, Lourenco replied quickly.
“I didn’t even know,” she said.
“I asked coach Hank [Woodrome] because I was curious and he told me, ‘You’re top five,’” she said.
It wasn’t until Lourenco asked assistant coach Jane Carr after the round that she discovered she had not only finished in the top five, she had won, becoming the first individual medalist in the program’s young history.
“Good thing I didn’t know that,” she said.
Having a stress-free mindset aids Lourenco in success
Lourenco avoids the pressures of a final round by eliminating the knowledge of her current position on the leaderboard, a common tactic used by golfing professionals who struggle in pressure situations.
“I try to keep things in perspective every time I play, regardless if I’m leading or not,” Lourenco said.
In the program’s six-year existence, Biola women’s golf has seen a remarkable surge in overall talent. From having just two players in 2007, the team has expanded to beyond four players, making a full team every year since 2010.
Now, two years later, the team continues to rise, reaching the NAIA Top 25 for the first time in school history, and it’s Lourenco who has made that possible this fall.
“She is a tireless worker with a great golf mentality,” Woodrome said. “She loves to practice and work hard on her game.”
Lourenco proving to be Woodrome’s best recruit
Woodrome, who has served as head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams since 2010, recruited Lourenco knowing the potential she could bring to Biola.
“I knew Ava [Lourenco] would be a very good player when I recruited her,” Woodrome said. “I didn’t think it would happen this soon, however. It’s her desire and work ethic that has accelerated her progress.”
Fresh off her victory last week, Lourenco has until February to prepare for the spring season in hopes of furthering the team’s recent success.
Hailing from central California, Lourenco grew up in the town of Tulare, playing three sports at one point in high school. By her junior year, she had decided golf was her biggest passion and dropped both softball and soccer.
“You can be friends with your competitors,” Lourenco said, contrasting the relaxed environment of golf to the sometimes hostile nature of other sports.
Lourenco’s fall scoring average of 75.9, including two rounds of 71 and just one round in the 80s, has propelled the team to uncharted territory in the NAIA rankings, sitting at 24th overall following last week’s second-place team finish, the best in school history.
“With her desire and determination, I believe she can take her game to the highest level,” Woodrome said.