FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Women’s golfer Megan Buck has played in more than 90 rounds in her four-year career but she can remember the first like it was yesterday.
“I remember being on the first tee and telling myself it was just another golf tournament,” said Buck, who ranks seventh in career rounds play in school history. “It was a different feeling. You are young and feel like you don’t belong there.”
When Buck tee ups Monday morning with her teammates in the 2010 Big Sky Women’s Golf Championships presented by Black Clover, it will be a lot more than another tournament. NAU will be seeking their seventh Big Sky Conference Championship title and first back-to-back titles since claiming four straight titles from 1996-99. The Lumberjacks were the preseason favorite to win the title in a poll of the league coaches.
“I am really excited,” said Buck. “This past week has been going so slow because I am anxious to get there and start playing. I know we have a great team this year and it is ours to win if we play well.”
Buck was part of a playing five in 2009 that helped NAU win the conference title for the first time since 2002 and earn a NCAA Regional berth. She carded a four-over par 76 in the final round and finished tied for ninth overall at 15-over par 231.
“It would be huge,” said Buck of winning a second consecutive team title. “I think I want it even more this year because I remember what a good feeling it was last year. It being my senior year, I want to leave on a good note. I feel like we have such a good team and we have got really close. It would be really exciting if we could do it.”
Buck, who played at Phoenix Mountain Ridge High School, has been a four-time Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete recipient and All-Big Sky Academic selection. She has improved her stroke average each season but dropped it two strokes this season to a career-best 77.3.
While she has had a solid season, it has been up and down one in her final campaign. She started strong in the fall by posting three of her four top single rounds including a collegiate-best 71 at the Grand Canyon Fall Invitational. Then she had three straight tournaments finishing as the fourth player on the team but turned her game around just in time for a strong finish.
“For a while I was struggling with my swing,” said Buck. “When that happens I think you lose some confidence and it hard to get that back. Being my senior year I think I put extra pressure on myself. It was harder to build that confidence back. I realized I only have a month left and want to enjoy it. Bringing that mentality to the golf course has really helped.”
Buck tied her collegiate best score last week for 54 holes at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic played at Ocotillo Golf Resort, the site of the Big Sky Championships.
“I know that I played really well and my game is in a good place right now,” said Buck. “I love that golf course. I feel calm there. It is exciting hearing that was my best tournament because I feel like I can do even better than that. I really did not finish my strongest all three rounds so I am really confident going into the conference tournament.”
Buck, who was recently named to the All-Big Sky team for the first time in her career, is taking in every moment as her career winds down.
“It has really gone fast,” said Buck, who will graduate in May with a degree in business management. “It is crazy to think I am going to be gone in a couple of weeks. I seems like I just got here and was all nervous as a freshman playing in my first tournament. I feel like I am just getting a hang of it and now it is almost done.”
Not quite. She still has a few rounds to play.