When the Sahuaro girls golf team arrived at Rolling Hills Golf Course for practice Monday afternoon, there were no fans and no hanging banners. There weren’t even enough mats at the course’s driving range for all eight girls to use.
The life of a defending state champion has not yet been a glamorous one for the Cougars. But with three of Division II’s top five golfers on its roster, don’t expect Sahuaro to lose any sleep over golf mats.
“This team is led by girls who are confident that we can win anywhere but also are too humble to let it get to their heads that we’re defending state champions,” coach Megan Hughes said.
Sahuaro’s three leaders are senior Desiree Hong and juniors Kathryn Ottman and Taylor Hughes. It will take strong outings from the whole trio, in addition to senior Samantha Hacker, to repeat as state champs, their coach said.
Sahauro, the No. 1 team in Division II, will face second-ranked Salpointe Catholic today at Randolph Park.
The Cougars say they’re ready.
“We don’t go around thinking we’re all that,” Megan Hughes said. “Any given day you can be beat, and these girls understand that.”
The Star sat down with the Sahuaro trio before today’s match to get to know them a little better.
Who: Desiree Hong
The lowdown: Hong, a senior who finished fifth at state last season, is ranked second in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division II individual rankings behind Salpointe freshman Haylin Harris.
Favorite course: Torrey Pines. Hong shot a 231 at the home of the 2008 U.S. Open during the Callaway Junior World Golf Championship this summer.
Favorite golfer: Jordan Spieth. The 21-year-old PGA Tour standout captured the hearts of teenage girls when he finished second at the Masters. “He’s super cute, and he seems like he’s a nice guy,” Hong said.
Fun fact: Hong’s nickname is Smiley. “She’s always happy and can’t stop smiling,” Taylor Hughes said.
Coach’s call: “There’s a reason she was voted our captain. Desiree’s skill is she knows how to score. She always finds a way. She’s steady, and it’s nice having that as your captain.” — Megan Hughes
THE QUIET LEADER
Who: Kathryn Ottman
The lowdown: The junior is ranked fourth. She finished 19th at state last fall.
Favorite course: Pebble Beach. “It was really challenging, but it was fun and beautiful,” she said.
Favorite golfers: Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson
Fun fact: You likely won’t find Ottman’s favorite musicians on any country club playlist. Ottman says she loves the rappers Tech N9ne and Eminem. “You wouldn’t guess it, but she likes that in-your-face music,” Taylor Hughes said.
Coach’s call: “She constantly puts up good scores. She’s not a loud leader, but all the girls love her and respect her and I think truly look up to her.” — Megan Hughes
THE COACH’S DAUGHTER
Who: Taylor Hughes
The lowdown: Hughes, a junior who placed sixth at state in 2013, is ranked fifth.
Favorite course: The Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain.
Favorite golfer: Spieth. “His Instagram is really nice,” she said, “and I think he’s the future of golf.”
Fun fact: Her teammates say Hughes is the smartest girl on the team and takes school just as seriously as she takes her golf. “She’s really good at every subject,” Hong said. “But she’s also really cool and fun to hang out with.”
Coach’s call: “Taylor has worked so hard, especially over the past few years. She’s got a separate coach she works with, and I’ve seen her drive grow ever since.” — Megan Hughes