It’s hard for any team to replace what its senior class brings on and off the field every year, but it’s especially hard when they make up half the roster.
Justine Lee, Nicole Jones, Daniela Ordonez and Laura Blanco are the four seniors on ASU women’s golf roster of eight golfers. Throughout their careers, coach Melissa Luellen has watched them grow as players and as people.
“It has been a true joy to watch them grow and mature over the last four years,” Luellen said. “They have really had great experiences discovering who they are as people and what’s important to each of them.”
Jones, a Phoenix native, was a three-year captain at Horizon High School in Scottsdale. She was named the Western States Golf Champion during her senior season at Horizon, as well as being a member of the National Honor Society and the fourth runner-up in Miss Teen Phoenix.
Her hometown roots showed during her entire career, as her lowest round scores in each year she played were shot during the PING/ASU Invitational at the ASU Karsten Golf Course.
Jones also shot her season 54-hole low total in her junior year at the PING/ASU Invitational.
Lee, who came to ASU by way of Sydney, was already an established golfer even before her collegiate career. In 2009, she played in the Women’s Australian Open and had the highest finish of all the amateurs playing in the event. She became an alternate on Australia’s 2010 World Amateur team one year later.
An excellent student-athlete, Lee was named to the All-Pac-12 honorable mention team as well as the Pac-12 All-Academic first team her sophomore season.
Lee shot her career-low round score of 67 in the first round of the PING/ASU Invitational in her sophomore season. During her junior year, she had the best round of all the Sun Devils on the final round of the NCAA championships where ASU took fifth.
Ordonez is another foreign-born player on the ASU squad, hailing from Colombia. In 2008, Ordonez was named National Colmbian Junior Champion. A year later, she became the Chilean Junior Champion and in 2010 she finished fifth in the Colombian Open.
During her career at ASU, Ordonez has finished in the top 20 of individual scoring in tournaments 14 times. Her season-low this year came after a 5-under performance at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational in October.
She was also named to the Pac-12 All-Academic first team during her sophomore season after she recorded the highest GPA of all Pac-12 golfers.
Ordonez is not the only player ASU has from Colombia. Blanco, who was born in Bogota, won the very Colombian Open that Ordonez placed fifth in in 2010.
Blanco had arguably her best performance of her collegiate career when it mattered. During her junior year, she shot 2-under in the Pac-12 championships and ended with the fifth-best individual score.
In six starts with ASU this year, Blanco has finished in the top 20 in individual scoring three times.
Despite not having won an NCAA championship during their careers, Luellen said there is no added pressure to win one for the seniors. Instead, the rest of the team will lean on their experience and leadership.
“I feel they do an excellent job of setting the example for the underclassmen,” Luellen said. “They have been in charge of the environment for the last year, and I think it’s been very positive.”
For these senior golfers, they have shared many great memories and moments during their careers. They hope their best memory is yet to be made, as ASU prepares for the NCAA championships in May.
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