Looking back at ASU women's golf team's 1990 championship season

2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the first national championship in the golf program's history

Thirty years ago, ASU women's golf had a season to remember: It won its first national championship in school history.

After years of falling short of the ultimate goal, ASU would go on to win five more national championships that decade. The 1990 Sun Devils sparked a decade of championship success.

“Players behind us had the benefits of winning a national championship, living up to expectations,” said Missy Farr-Kaye, a senior on the 1990 team and current head coach. “No one comes here who isn’t ready for that.”

With the national championship taking place in South Carolina, ASU was led by freshman Brandie Burton, who went on to play on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour that year. 

“The first thing that pops into my head when thinking about the 1990 team was Brandie Burton,” said Amy Fruhwirth, who was a senior on the team. “Burton elevated all of our games because she was such a great player and brought a maturity to her game as a freshman.”

Burton won six tournaments during her only season with the Sun Devils. The next season, in her first season on the LPGA tour, Burton won the LPGA tour Rookie of the Year.

With Burton on their side, the Sun Devils were determined to not let anything stop them. 

But that didn't mean the team didn't face its fair share of challenges. 

“The biggest hurdle I think we had to get past was not winning the Pac-10 Championship that year,” Fruhwirth said. “(It) was a big let down, and we had to pick ourselves up and focus on the next task at hand which was winning the NCAA Championship.” 

The team may not have been able to capture their third Pac-10 title in four years, but Burton still topped the leader board with a five-under-par 214 for the tournament. The disappointment from the loss motivated the Sun Devils to attack the national title and compete with very little doubt.

“I don’t remember having many doubts going into the championship, we had the players and the talent,” Tricia Konz Erickson said. “We were coming off a successful season with many team wins, and our goal was to come out on top. We hoped it was our time and it was.” 

Konz Erickson started out the tournament hot with a one-over 73 on day one, helping to lead the Sun Devils in her first NCAA Championship. On day two, Fruhwirth put up a 74 and Burton added a 75 helped to move the team into position to earn the national title.

Burton moved into first with a one-under-par round on day three. 

With the strong help of freshmen Konz Erickson and Burton, combined with the play of veterans Fruhwirth and Farr-Kaye on the final day, the Sun Devils kept a safe lead over the competition. 

“We ended up winning by 16 strokes over UCLA, it is a moment our team will always cherish,” Konz Erickson said. “I just remember seeing my coach’s smile on (the) 18th (hole). It said it all, an image and a moment I will never forget in my life.” 

This win started a decade of dominance for ASU under then-head coach Linda Vollstedt

“1990 got the ball rolling.” Konz Erickson said. “It led to team victories in ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, ‘97 and ‘98.” 

This 1990 team shaped the women’s golf teams for the years to come. It was a team that truly enjoyed competing with each other every day. 

"We all get along so well and had fun," Fruhwirth said. "We were serious when we needed to be, but we had fun and we were a cohesive team."

This led to Farr-Kaye working to create a similar environment for her current Sun Devil golfers. 

“You have to have fun, look at the guys in the NBA, they have to have fun to make it enjoyable,” Farr-Kaye said. “It is a fine line between grinding and relaxing, but in the postseason, you usually see the teams that are cohesive and having fun come out on top.” 

Farr-Kaye, having coached two national championship-winning teams herself, has worked hard to keep the Sun Devils ranked nationally. She takes pride in having a team that works together and moves seamlessly in one direction. 

“Our main goal is to coach the girls individually but teach them how to come together as a team and support each other,” Farr-Kaye said. “When we get both going, it is a wonderful thing.” 

Reach the reporter at anvalle1@asu.edu and follow @amandaa.valle on Twitter.

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