By Justin Toscano
When head coach Missy Farr-Kaye and the Arizona State women’s golf team arrived at Tempe’s ASU Karsten Golf Course on Thursday evening, they were greeted by a standing ovation and loud roars from what seemed like 100 fans and athletic department officials congratulating them on winning the program’s NCAA record eighth national title.
Farr-Kaye, who had been holding the trophy and posing for pictures since the team’s arrival, was virtually speechless. She uttered the same three words multiple different times while she and her team stood in front of the crowd in a meeting room in the course’s clubhouse.
“This is overwhelming,” she said.
Understandably, she appeared a bit flustered by the moment as she spoke the same words over and over. Her emotions were palpable. At one point while speaking in front of that crowd, Farr-Kaye even got a bit choked up.
Farr-Kaye said she has felt the outpouring of support in the past day. The team had people taking selfies with them in the airport and she also estimated she received 400 text messages, so many that she needed to scroll all the way down past all of them to call her children.
Two years after earning the job, she led her team to a national championship.
“You work really hard in a lot of anonymity on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “You show up in heat and different conditions and you work long, hard hours. These girls work long, hard hours and I’m so thrilled that they get some recognition for the amazing athletes and people that they are.
“We’re just going to enjoy it and celebrate it and continue this rich history and tradition we have for Arizona State golf.”
ASU defeated Northwestern 3-1-1 on Wednesday to cap a trifecta of sorts for Farr-Kaye, who was a golfer on the program’s first championship team in 1990 under Linda Vollstedt, an assistant coach on its 2009 title team and now the head coach of this year’s championship team.
This year’s run featured a remarkable comeback as ASU found itself trailing Stanford 2-1 when Tuesday’s semifinal was called late at night due to darkness after a rain delay. On Wednesday morning, senior Monica Vaughn — who won the Individual Championship on Monday — and sophomore Linnea Strom both made comebacks on the 19th hole to propel ASU over Stanford, 3-2.
Farr-Kaye said she learned a lot during the run, too. Before NCAA Regionals, the golfers told her that her energy wasn’t good when she was watching scores during rounds, so she put her phone away.
She lost track of time and had no idea of her team’s placement or her golfers’ scores throughout their rounds. Farr-Kaye said she continued this through Monday’s Individual Championship and will also do it next season.
“When we finished the last day, when (Monica Vaugn) won, she had a two-foot putt to win the national championship, I did know what that was for,” Farr-Kaye said. “So when I was on the green with her, I was relaxed. …When you really kind of let it go and come to peace with whatever happens, happens, magical things happen.”
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) May 26, 2017
After winning the team NCAA Championship on Wednesday, ASU arrived back at its hotel at about 10 p.m. and was later joined by the men’s golf team that night. Together, the two squads watched the highlights of the women winning the national title.
It gave the women an opportunity to experience that unique, indescribable feeling for a second time.
“It was lovely to watch it back and think about what we’ve achieved, it’s incredible really,” freshman Olivia Mehaffey said.
ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson, who hired Farr-Kaye to be the 10th head coach in ASU women’s golf history in 2015, was in attendance on Thursday. Anderson still remembers the Manila envelope Farr-Kaye brought with her when she interviewed for the position.
The envelope contained many items, but she chose to pull out one in particular. It was her great grandmother’s diploma from her graduation in 1899, back when ASU was called Tempe Normal School.
“This was part of her way of telling me the family legacy and why this (job) was hers and no one else’s because no one else has that family tie to ASU like you had,” Anderson said to the crowd. “I’m telling you, that was it. That was it. We knew that we had absolutely the right person to lead us because you love this place, and we love you.”
Far before she even picked up a golf club, Farr-Kaye remembers attending ASU football games and sitting in the top corner of Sun Devil Stadium with her father and her sister, Heather.
On Thursday, Farr-Kaye told the crowd her golfers were clamoring about whether they could get on that same field to be honored during an ASU football home game this upcoming season.
“Consider it done!” Anderson interjected, amidst laughs from the crowd. “How could I possibly say no to a national champion?”
“Either at the USC game or the Stanford game!” added ASU President Michael Crow, poking fun at two Pac-12 rival teams who were eliminated in the semifinals.
But Farr-Kaye implied that this wasn’t the first time her golfers had mentioned that. They were always wondering how could get on Frank Kush Field, even before they captured the national championship.
When they would ask Farr-Kaye how they could do so, the coach’s answer was simple: win something.
“Check that box, they’ve accomplished that,” Farr-Kaye said.