By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
The University of Washington (UW)’s women’s golf team won its first national championship this May in Eugene, Ore. Senior Ying Luo and freshmen Wenyung Keh and Sarah Rhee helped lead the team to a memorable victory.
Rhee, an Ingraham High School grad, scored the biggest shot of the tournament run. With the team down in the semifinals, Rhee needed to rally in the last three holes of her round, which included sinking a shot from the sand bunker to key the Lady Dawgs to victory. “My mind was completely blank,” Rhee recalled. “I stopped thinking about what I had to do or who was watching and what was on the line. My mind kind of shut down and went blank.”
Rhee was a four-year letterman at Ingraham and won the 2015 Class 3A State Title. “Picking Washington was a very easy choice because of growing up in the Seattle area,” stated Rhee, who always wanted to golf as a Husky.
Rhee got into golf when she was really young because she would tag along with her dad to go to the range.
Ying Luo, who graduated this past June with a degree from the UW’s Foster School of Business, was the first UW recruit from China. She was one of only two seniors on the team and her younger teammates relied on her for guidance.
“I considered a lot of factors before choosing UW,” Luo stated in an email to Northwest Asian Weekly. “Both the academic program and golf program are one of the top in the country, even in the world.”
Her transition to studying at the UW was tough. Luo had to overcome a language barrier when she first came to Seattle. Growing up in Shenzhen, China, she had to adjust to American culture and felt like an outsider. Far from home, Luo relied on her golf teammates and coaches to serve as her family.
Luo will miss a lot of things about the UW. “I’ll miss the Thai food on the Ave., the cherry blossoms at the Quad [on the UW campus,] and seeing Mount Rainier through the [Drumheller] fountain on a sunny day.
Luo made the winning shot to secure the title for the Huskies. She chipped in a shot from 45 yards out, which ignited a celebration from her teammates and coaches. “Unreal,” stated Luo of the shot.
“There’s no better way for me to end my amateur and college career.”
After graduating, Luo will play golf professionally and attend “Q-school,” short for qualifying school, which allows golfers to qualify for golf tours, such as the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
Wenyung Keh, a freshman from New Zealand, was a key part of the effort to winning the school’s first NCAA women’s golf title. The Korean-born Kiwi won her match in the finals. She went unbeaten in match play during the tournament, as the UW defeated the University of Virginia and UCLA prior to defeating Stanford in the finals.
Since winning the NCAA title, Keh has enjoyed the perks of being a champion. The team was able to throw out the first pitch at a Mariners game. They also were able to attend the recent women’s PGA event at the Sahalee Country Club and meet with tour players.
Keh, along with freshman Julianne Alvarez, came to Seattle from New Zealand.
“I committed to the UW because they have great depth in both golf and academics and the coaches were very nice,” said the Auckland native. “The atmosphere [in Seattle] was quite similar to New Zealand with the weather and scenery, however, the culture took a bit more time to get used to, but it wasn’t too bad.”
Keh qualified for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. She has three siblings, including an older sister who plays professional golf in New Zealand.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.