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Women’s Golf: Sweet success: golfer swings easy

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September 29, 2009

1:16 AM

If she could sink the two-foot putt for par, Caroline Sweet knew she would be the top-ranked public high school golfer in Maryland.

“I wanted to be excited,” she said, “but I knew I had to focus.”

Focus she did, and when her ball dropped in the cup, Sweet picked it up and gave a confident fist pump. She had secured the win that she now considers the highlight of her high school career.

Now a sophomore at the College, Sweet is growing accustomed to that feeling. In the past two weeks, she has won back-to-back tournaments — becoming the first Tribe golfer to do so in 26 years — and been named CAA Golfer of the Week two weeks in a row.

The Bowie, Md. native began playing golf when she was 11 at the insistence of her father, who had been attracted to the sport by its most popular figure.

“My dad became a big fan of Tiger Woods,” she said. “He thought it would be good for my brother and me to get into [golf] and stay out of trouble.”

Contrary to her initial expectations, Sweet found a strong connection to the sport and stuck with it. Despite experimenting with soccer and other sports, she focused on what she did best by the time she reached high school: playing golf.

Her dedication paid off. In her senior year at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, she led the Raiders through multiple tournaments. In the Maryland Examiner, she made a clutch wedge shot onto the green to swing the momentum and initiate a comeback victory. After becoming the Maryland state high school champion, she was named the 2008 Washington Post All-Met Golfer of the year.

Sweet first heard of the College during her junior year in high school when she received a recruitment letter from Tribe Head Golf Coach Jay Albaugh. After visiting the campus, she was drawn to the College for its balance of rigorous academics and competitive athletics.

And Albaugh and the golf program are certainly glad to have her.

“From the moment I started recruiting and talking to [Caroline], I knew if she committed to William and Mary, she would have an immediate and positive impact on the program,” Albaugh said.

Sweet has followed through on that potential. In her rookie season, Sweet brought her solid play to each tournament, tying for fourth overall at the Hoya Invitational in Beallsville, Md. As a sophomore, she has already earned medalist honors at the Bucknell Invitational and the Great Smokies Intercollegiate, becoming the first Tribe golfer to win two tournaments in one season since 1991. Additionally, she tied a school record with a score of 69 (-3) in her first round.

“It hasn’t sunken in yet for sure,” Sweet said. “It’s somewhat surreal.”

But her achievements have not come easy. Sweet puts in countless hours of work on the golf course, practicing four days a week and on weekends. The emphasis of these practices is the area of the game in which a player can cut the most strokes: the short game. Not surprisingly, this is an area where Sweet excels.

She credits a lot of her success to the support of her family and the instruction of Coach Albaugh.

“Coach told me to not worry about getting birdies; play solid and it’ll come,” Sweet said. “Let a good score happen, as opposed to forcing it.”

Her coach and teammates appreciate the dedication and light-hearted personality that Sweet brings every day.

“Caroline has an awesome attitude,” senior Morgan Stepanek said. “She is definitely a very supportive teammate and always knows how to bring a smile to your face.”

Sweet is most proud that she has been able to excel in golf while maintaining decent grades in school. Staying strong in both aspects of her busy schedule can be challenging at times.

“I try to study at tournaments ,but it never works,” Sweet said. “[To succeed at both] takes the ability to be very organized.”

But she has a way of getting it done, just the same as she has a habit of finishing off tournament wins.

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