Missouri golfer transitions from junior college to the Big 12

Thursday, September 3, 2009 | 5:25 p.m. CDT; updated 8:38 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 5, 2009

COLUMBIA — Nicola Race knows adjusting to a new surrounding takes time. She has jumped continents from Essex, England, to Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla. Now, she is in the middle of a transition from junior college to a Big 12 university.

The one constant for Race has always been golf.

“The distractions are very overwhelming,” Race said. “But then I get back in the groove of golf.”

The junior is coming off two dominating seasons with Redlands Community College. She won back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association National Women’s Golf Championships, was an All-American each year and received the 2009 NJCAA Betty Jo Garber Female Student-Athlete of the Year award.

Facing tougher competition in the Big 12 only excites her.

“It’s going to push me playing D-1,” Race said. “It’s going to push me to be a better golfer and better person off the course.”

Off the course is where Race is experiencing what she calls a “culture shock." She has been pleasantly surprised by the warm weather and receptiveness of the people. The main problem is finding her way around.

“I sat through two classes before I realized I was in the wrong class,” Race said.

While Race might still be lost around town without a map, her teammates are happy she’s here.

“Bringing Nicola in is really going to help,” No. 1 golfer Julia Potter said.

Potter has been especially helpful to Race’s adjustment.

“She (Julia) has given me a lot of pointers around the golf course and also socially,” Race said.

The Tigers, who are looking to return to the NCAA Regionals after missing the cut last season for the first time in seven years, will benefit from Race’s big tournament experience. After a couple rounds of qualifying, she is currently slated to be the No. 2 golfer for MU.

“It was important she got here early, the week before school started,” coach Stephanie Priesmeyer said. “She’s adjusting really well.”

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