In her first season at the University of Albany, Annie Songeun Lee has helped make school history.
The Surrey native was part of the Albany Great Danes golf team which won the school’s first-ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship last month in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Lee, a graduate of Pacific Academy, was not just part of the team. She was its top player, winning the MAAC individual title and claiming rookie of the Year Honours, leading the five-member Great Danes group to an 11-stroke victory in the three-round tournament.
After a first-round 76, she shot two rounds of 75 for a three-day score of 226, three strokes better than the runner-up.
After a strong performance in the MAAC fall season, Lee was told by Albany coach Colleen Cashman-McSween she should be a contender for the Rookie of the Year title, and possibly the conference championship as well.
“After the fall season, my coach said I had a chance. There weren’t a lot of freshmen who scored as well as I did,” said Lee. “After the second day, I was in second place by one stroke.”
Changing weather conditions in Florida on the final day of play proved a challenge for some golfers, but not Lee.
“Overall, the players at the top didn’t score as well on the last day. It was windy, sometimes sunny and sometimes rainy,” she said. “Coming from Surrey, I’ve played golf in the rain all the time. Wind and rain isn’t a problem, so it was an advantage for me.
“After nine holes, I was even, and everyone else was at least three-over. After I birdied 18, my coach told me I had won.”
At the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) regional tournament in St. George, Utah, Albany didn’t fare as well as a team, placing last among the 18 teams competing.
Lee, who again had the low score on the team, is already looking forward to next season.
“Next year, I want to win the conference again and go to the NCAA regionals,” she said. “I didn’t play as well as I could, I was nervous going up against the big schools like Stanford and Colorado.”
As successful as she is on the golf course, she has achieved as much in the classroom, posting a 3.88 grade point average while taking business courses with a goal of becoming an accounting major.
“Education always comes first, and our coach doesn’t push us to practice golf,” said Lee. “And when we do practice, when we’re done she says ‘go do your homework.’ “
When she wasn’t offered the full ride scholarship she was hoping for from other NCAA schools, Lee thought she would be headed to the University of British Columbia.
But Cashman-McSween contacted her in October of her Grade 12 year, and asked Lee to consider the University of Albany. She didn’t take long to decide to attend college in the state capital of New York.
“I just thought the people here are real nice, and it’s multicultural, a lot like home. I knew I would do well in golf and academics.”