Right before the Stanford-Pepsi Invitational in October, junior Cassandra Kirkland was frustrated with her play. “Actually, just before I left for Stanford, I was really frustrated,” she said. “Two weeks before I was playing good, but a week before Stanford I was playing really bad. I don’t know what happened. I was really frustrated and I called my swing coach in France for the first time in two years. We stayed on the phone and he tried to get me to do things, so I practiced really hard that week and went to Stanford and did really good.”
Kirkland left the Stanford-Pepsi Invitational with her name etched in the Arizona women’s golf history book. She shot a 67 in round two, making her one of seven Arizona golfers to accomplish that feat. She continued on her tear through the Stanford-Pepsi Invitational by also adding her name next to the likes of former Wildcat greats Jenna Daniels, Natalie Gulbis and Leta Lindley with a three-round total of 207.
It’s taken the Saint-Nom-La-Breteche, France, native three years to be comfortable in the United States. “I think it’s the best place for me to come to the U.S. for golf. There are good players, especially my teammates. Coming here taught me to play with a lot of good players.”
“It was pretty rough from the beginning,” she added. “First of all, I didn’t speak great English so it was hard to understand everybody. My coach and the coaches in America are so different, but after a while I got used to it and I got used to the golf courses, which are different than the ones in France.”
As Kirkland grasped the America course, she was steadily building herself up in the collegiate golf world. In her second collegiate event, Kirkland finished in second at the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational, shooting 3-over-par 219. An All Pac-10 honorable mention selection during the 2003-04 season, she started her sophomore year leading the NCAA Fall Preview in Auburn, Ala., after shooting a 68 in round one. She finished the three-day event tied for third.
Building on the momentum of the past two years, Kirkland leads the team with a 73.76 stroke average. In March, she finally claimed her first individual medalist honors by shooting a 4-over-par 220 in the UNLV Spring Invitational.
“It was good to win a tournament. Every year,” Kirkland said. “I was leading a tournament and messed up the last couple of holes and I always finished second or third. This time, I actually messed up a little bit, but I was a couple of strokes ahead and held on. It was a good experience.”
In her final year, Kirkland wants to keep up with her consistent good play. “I am working hard in the weight room and on the golf course, so hopefully I will be a little more stronger,” she said.
In the end, all the hard work Kirkland has shown, as a Wildcat will help her succeed in her future play. “I want to go back in May 2006 and get my European Card,” she said. “Maybe I’ll try to get it either this year or next year. If I get it, I am going to give myself three years to do well and then come back here and play. I might come back in one year and I might come back in three, it just depends on how well I play.”