As the 5-foot-10-inch golfer lines up for the shot, her face flushed and her mind brooding over the last hole, she pulls her club back and right before the head makes contact with the ball she hesitates, hoping that this swing will be different than the last.
Although Maggie Yuan’s college golf career ended with an invitation to the NCAA regionals, Yuan has had to work on her mental toughness in order to make it where she is now.
Yuan wrapped up her collegiate golf career in Erie, Colorado at the NCAA Women’s Golf regionals Saturday, May 12. Yuan finished the season with a 41st place finish in the regionals after shooting an eight over par.
When Yuan, a Chinese Native, first came to Provo from Queensland, Australia to play golf, she noticed a problem: There were four months out of the year that she couldn’t play golf. She had excelled in her high school career because of both her natural ability, but also the year-round golf she was able to play.
“I knew that I could be better than most people because I could practice more, but in college I have class, and homework, and then I have to travel and I couldn’t even play in the winter,” Yuan said. “My freshman year I thought about transferring to some place where I could still play in the winter like I did in Australia.”
Yuan said that that even though she couldn’t practice as much as she liked, she eventually learned to tell herself that she was still good at golf even without the extensive practice and could compete at a high level. She also said that she ended up liking the winter because she learned her second favorite sport.
“I’m so thankful that I came to Utah because I never would have learned to ski, and now I love the winters here,” Yuan said.
Her senior season was her best season at BYU. She credited the improvement in her game to letting mistakes made on the course go and not be such a perfectionist. She also gave credit to her mental coach who helped her to be able to maintain a happy and positive attitude, and not let mistakes compound on each other throughout a round or tournament.
“She used to kind of hold on to stuff a little bit, and let her emotions affect her next shot, and she has worked really hard at just trusting the next shot and moving on,” Coach Roberts said. “It’s been her that’s fixed it. She’s a smart enough player to know what she’s doing and recognizes what’s throwing her off.”
Yuan went into the tournament a WCC All-Conference player and off a strong third-place finish in the WCC Championship Tournament.
“I wasn’t sure if I would get in the [regional] tournament or not because of one bad tournament I had at UCLA, but I guess my other top 20 finishes were enough to get me in,” Yuan said.
Yuan showed that she indeed had mental toughness in the second day of the tournament. She played her best round on day two even though the temperature was in the 30’s, it was raining and the wind was gusting at high speeds.
“She didn’t complain about it once and it was her best round of the entire tournament, she shot a two under,” teammate Amanda Keith said. “[Maggie] said ‘I didn’t think about it once.’ You’re out there for five hours straight and she was able to put it all together, that’s really impressive. That’s just how Mags is, get the job done first.”
Yuan was on her way to New York with her family when Coach Roberts called her and told her the news that she had been selected to go to regionals.
“I had to go back home to get my clubs and then I played a few rounds in New York to get my practice in, it was a nice surprise,” Yuan said. “It’s a good feeling to be invited to one more tournament.”
Yuan has been a great example of what a good attitude and hard work can help a person accomplish.
“The girls have been able to learn from her and watch her,” Roberts said. “She has been that leader on the course, she works very hard. She’s the one you don’t have to worry about. This means something to her and she practices with purpose and drive that the other girls see and want as well.”
“She is the nicest person you will ever meet,” Keith said. “She is so kindhearted and willing to do anything for anyone. She is the type of person I could call in 20 years and say lets go golfing, and she would.”
Keith also said that Maggie has learned to live a good life by keeping things simple and always incorporating fun into everything.
Yuan will leave BYU with a degree in Commercial Recreation Management and a good chance at a professional career.
“I’m planning to move to Florida in June to prepare for the qualifying score for the LPGA Tour and hope to start my professional career in 2013” Yuan said.