April 8, 2004
PULLMAN, Wash. - It has been quite a spring season for Washington State junior All-American Kim Welch.
And her accomplishments are reflected in the numbers.
Four tournament wins this season, which is tied for the nation's lead. Three consecutive tournament victories. Seven career wins. Two player of the week accolades from two separate publications.
There is a new number to add to Welch's spring resume; that is eight, as is a No. 8 ranking in the nation by Golfstat in its most recent standings released, April 7.
Welch's Golfstat rating marks the highest ranking a WSU golfer (male or female) has had in its school history. Dustin White held the previous high when he reached No. 13 in the Golfstat Cup rankings, March 7, 2002.
In fact, Welch set the school standard the previous week when she was No. 10 in the ratings.
"Nothing that Kim does surprises me anymore," WSU Head Coach Walt Williams said. "She is a phenomenal player who never ceases to amaze me."
Welch's ranking is the latest addition to the growing list of accomplishments for the Sacramento, Calif. native. Even before the season began, she received national recognition from GolfWorld and Golfweek magazines. She was named a Preseason All-American by Golfweek and was ranked ninth on the Top 50 female players to watch list for the 2003-04 season in the Sept. 12 issue of GolfWorld magazine.
Welch lived up to the preseason publicity as she began the spring season with a 12-stroke win at the Islander Spring Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas, Feb. 17.
She posted her second win of the spring with a triumph at the Oregon Duck Invitational in Eugene, Ore., March 9. Welch, who garnered her third consecutive win at the Duck Invite, entered the final round tied for the lead but buoyed by a final round 1-under 71, captured the event by five shots. Welch, who has won the event on three different courses, led the Cougars to the team title for the second consecutive year.
The win at the Duck Invite earned Welch national recognition with GolfWorld's College National Player of Week award for the March 19 issue of the magazine. The award was Welch's third such honor from GolfWorld with the previous honors coming as a result of her two preceding wins at the Duck Invite.
Eight days later, Welch posted her second consecutive tournament victory as she rallied to win the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational, March 17 at Kaneohe, Hawaii.
Welch began the third and final round at 4-over, placing her in a tie for sixth and four shots behind the second round leader. However, on a day where players struggled with breezy conditions and fast greens, Welch fired a 1-under 71 to propel her to a two-shot victory over a quartet of players.
Welch's 71, which tied for the best final round score in the 51-person field, gave her a 54-hole total of 3-over 219. Conversely, the average final round score of the six players tied or ahead of Welch entering the final round was 77.
The win at the Thompson earned Welch another player of the week honor, this time from Golfweek for its March 27 issue.
Welch made it three in a row with a three-stroke win at the Mountain View Collegiate at Tucson, Ariz., March 28. Welch led wire-to-wire en route to her victory.
Welch is tied with Duke's Elizabeth Janangelo, who is rated No.1 by Golfstat, for most tournament wins in the nation this season with four.
"Kim continues to go beyond all expectations," Williams said. "She plays better and better every week, month and year. I am extremely proud of all the accomplishments she's had thus far and I am excited about the future. She is something special, no question about it."
Welch, who recorded a fifth place finish at the 2003 NCAA Championships, has posted no worse than a sixth place finish in her last seven tournaments. She holds the school record with 27 career top 25 finishes, 22 of those being top 10 finishes, which is also a school record. Furthermore, Welch has finished in the top 19 in all nine tournaments played thus far in 2003-04.
Welch and the Cougars return to action at the Peg Barnard Invitational at the par 72, 6,168 yard Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif., April 10 & 11. The 36-hole tournament begins with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m., Saturday while Sunday's final round tees off with an 8 a.m. shotgun start.