May 20, 2016
By Rob Moseley
As a freshman two years ago, Cathleen Santoso spoke with her parents back home “a lot” – and that despite the time change between Eugene and her native Sydney, Australia.
UO women’s golf coach Ria Scott can recall “a couple moment of home sickness,” but also a freshman season in which Santoso scored her career-low round of 63 for the Ducks.
These days, Santoso’s calls home are more likely to be weekly rather than daily. “She loves it here,” Scott said.
What hasn’t changed? Santoso is still shooting low, low numbers for the Oregon women’s golf team.
On Friday, Santoso and the Ducks begin play in the NCAA Championships on the familiar links of Eugene Country Club. Santoso shot 1-over 216 to help the Ducks advance through NCAA Regionals in Louisiana earlier this month, leading her team for the third straight tournament and the fourth time in six stroke-play events this season.
“The second half of the spring,” Scott said, “she’s been our best player.”
Senior Caroline Inglis leads the Ducks in scoring average over the course of fall and spring. The Eugene native, who will play her final NCAA Championships in her hometown, is averaging an even 73 strokes over the course of 31 rounds in 2015-16.
Just behind that is Santoso, with a scoring average of 73.48. She’s cut it to 71.4 over her last three tournaments, kicked off by a season-low 67 to open the Silverado Showdown in Napa, Calif., to open April.
“It’s all finally coming together,” Santoso said simply. “It’s clicking. That’s it; that’s golf.”
And that’s good news for Santoso’s parents. It was two months ago when Adi and Nenny Santoso booked travel from Australia to Oregon for this week’s NCAA Championships – with no guarantee the Ducks would be in the field.
The UO women last played at nationals in 2013, Inglis’ freshman season. The past two years they weren’t able to advance past regionals. Never the less, Santoso’s parents booked their flights for this week.
The pressure was on, right? Santoso said no; she was able to block that out while shooting 71-75-71 at regionals, knowing all she could control was how well she played those three days. And she was used to the NCAA Championships at ECC being an unspoken specter looming over this season – Santoso referred to it as the team’s “DNA goal” for this season.
“To us, that means it’s like an obvious goal,” Scott said. “Like, we don’t have to tell our players to hit the fairway on No. 1.”
And, thus, you don’t have to tell them that qualifying to play in the NCAA Championships on their home course would be a heck of a thing. But saying and doing are sometimes quite different.
In the fall, reaching the NCAA Championships seemed anything but certain. At the Pac-12 Preview in November, the Ducks were last among the nine Pac-12 conference participants – one spot lower than rival Oregon State. That, for the UO women, was rock bottom.
That outcome was avenged to open the spring, as Oregon won the Civil War Match Play Challenge, 4-2. Two weeks later, they bested a 15-team field at the Westbrook Invitational in Arizona, beating conference rivals Oregon State and Washington State, among others.
Santoso was Oregon’s low individual in the event. She’s led the Ducks in all but one since.
“That’s the best feeling,” Santoso said of her string of success. “You’ve just got to roll with it. I’m just really glad I’ve got that momentum going into nationals.”