Visiting a foreign country is difficult. Going to a university and playing a collegiate sport in a foreign country is a whole different
But that is exactly what junior golfer Noemi Jimenez did when she elected to leave her home of Marbella, Spain, to study and play golf at ASU.
Since she was just over a year old, Jimenez has been inspired by her father. A professional golfer himself, he was the perfect role model and first coach.
“I started playing golf when I was 6,” Jimenez said. “But ever since I was 1 1/2, I used to watch (my father) all the time hitting golf, and I was doing the same with whatever I used to find in the floor. Always practicing my golf swings the whole time.”
Azahara Muñoz and Carlota Ciganda, fellow Spanish golfers and ASU alumnae, encouraged Jimenez to come to ASU. Muñoz and Ciganda told her ASU had great coaches, facilities, golf courses and weather.
Jimenez said she was excited to join the team, because Muñoz and Ciganda were the golfers she admired the most.
Jimenez has evolved both as a player and as a person during her three years at ASU. She has sharpened her golf skills, both physically and mentally, and adjusting to living on her own in a foreign country has also helped her mature as a person.
“Since my freshman year, I changed a lot, especially in my mental game,” she said. “I have become more independent and responsible with everything. Being away from home teaches you a lot and gives you the opportunity to not just improve as a golf player but also as a person.”
Jimenez made her mark on the collegiate stage last season when she finished 10th in the NCAA individuals and won WGCA second-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
She ended the season with six top-10 finishes and was the first ASU golfer since Louise Stahle in 2005 to win back-to-back tournaments at the Cal Classic and the Darius Rucker Invitational.
The recent success has not gone to Jimenez’s head, though, and her teammate freshman Monica Vaughn said she remains a leader and role model.
“Noemi is a great teammate, she is always funny and positive and knows so much about the game,” Vaughn said. “It’s fun for me to watch her play and learn from her. She always tries her hardest and works for every shot. She’s a great player and person.”
During the summer, Jimenez racked up even more accolades playing overseas with the Spanish Federation.
She helped Spain win gold in the Europeans, placed third in the European Individual, advanced to the semifinals in the British Amateur and played for the continent of Europe in the Vagliano Trophy competition.
Playing in Europe and America, Jimenez has experienced both match play and stroke play. She said that both are interesting styles of play but also very different.
“In Europe, most of the tournaments are individual and match play, while in America, it is always stroke play,” she said. “Match play is more fun in my opinion. It has a lot of adrenaline rush. Stroke play is when all the shots count, and you can win a tournament or lose it in just one hole.”
Jimenez said she looks to use last season’s successes and her good play this summer as a springboard for this season.
“My goal this season is for our team to make nationals. That’s most important to me,” Jimenez said. “I want to do well in all the tournaments, but most importantly the Pac-12 Preview in Hawaii and Nationals.”
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