In only two seasons at WKU, former Franklin-Simpson Lady Cat golfer and Lady Topper sophomore Mary Joiner is playing the best golf of her career. She holds the record for most career wins as a Lady Topper with four, two wins each last season and this season.
"Winning four times, being the record holder was never on my radar … it is really exciting but it has not sunk in as of right now," Joiner said. "I just want to keep improving and look towards the future. Once my playing career ends, all my accomplishments will probably sink in but right now, I am just looking forward to continue to put in more work, play better and get more wins."
With her win at the Eastern Kentucky Colonel's Classic, she was named as Conference USA's Women's Golfer of the Week for the third time this season in the last five weeks. No other player has won the award multiple times this season.
In the classic, she was tied with Akron's Danielle Nicholson at even par, heading into the playoff. She sank a 10-foot birdie, her only birdie in the tournament, to set the program record for wins. She led the tournament in par 4 scoring with a score of two under and tied for the tournament lead in total pars with 30.
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"The win at Eastern Kentucky is the highlight of my season. I shot better rounds but the conditions were tough," Joiner said. "Competing in a playoff was really exciting. I had some bad nerves heading into it but I pushed them aside and focused and when I made the birdie for the win, it was a sweet feeling."
Lady Toppers Golf Head Coach Adam Gary said Joiner is a well-rounded, competitive person and player.
"She's a great kid, a good student, helps us out tremendously when it comes to fundraising [and is] lways willing to help out. But when she is on the golf course, she wants to win. She's a very competitive person and that's what drives her," Gary said. "[That] really showed last week when she stepped up on the playoff hole and you can see that focus in her eyes. She could have come up with hundreds of excuses about her play but she made the birdie to knock out her opponent for the win,"
Gary said her success is no surprise based on his previous experience working at Kenny Perry's Country Creek Golf Course.
"I always knew that she would be doing big things on the collegiate level. When I was at Kenny Perry's, I saw the hard work she put in … it was a matter of her getting used to [playing] on this level and as [part of] a team," Gary said. "She was only with one or two players at Franklin-Simpson. She has had some competition among her teammates to push her and that has really helped out."
Joiner and the Lady Toppers are heading to Fort Myers, Florida this weekend for the Conference USA Golf Tournament from Monday, April 16 to Wednesday, April 18.
"We have a great team. We support each other in everything we do," Joiner said. "As a team, we are competing better and … I feel like this team can go a long ways. I think we can make top three and that's the goal we are shooting for."
Gary also said the team has progressed over the course of the season and expects a strong finish.
"We're the sixth seed heading into the tournament. We've moved up two spots since the start of the year," Gary said. "Coming off our fourth place finish last year, I would assume that we will finish in that area or perhaps even higher. It's the game of golf. Anything can happen but we are playing our best golf right now at this time."