COLUMBIA — Jessica Meek’s first golf season at Missouri went hot and cold.
The thermostat was volatile even before her first match as a Tiger. It spiked for the first time last July when she won the 2013 Scottish Ladies Junior Open just nine days before Meek left her home of Carnoustie, Scotland, for her first semester at Missouri.
Meek didn't show it if the pressure of leaving for a school 4,000 miles away from friends and family in a week and a half was on her mind during the tournament. Meek won the tournament by two strokes, earning the title of best female junior golfer in Scotland.
After that, things went cold. Less than two months after winning the tournament in Scotland, Meek failed to qualify for Missouri’s first tournament in September.
Though her fall results weren’t dreadful — she finished the best of Missouri's golfers at the Mercedes-Benz Intercollegiate, the team’s second event — Meek says in her first few months on the team, the mental side of her game was off.
“I felt like I put a lot of pressure on myself last semester,” Meek said. “Last semester, I didn’t really accept (bad shots) and move on very well.”
Being 4,000 miles away from home didn’t help, either.
“You go through things like missing your family and having them so far away,” Meek said. “You see what’s going on (with your friends) on Facebook, and you think, ‘If I was home, I could be doing that with them.'"
Meek credits a trip home over winter break as a turning point for her as a golfer.
“I think that’s the biggest thing, you think you’re missing out on something, when really, you’re not,” Meek said. “It took me to go home to realize that there isn’t anything going on in Scotland that is as good as what’s going on here.”
At home, with the help of her family, Meek says she took time to appreciate her accomplishments and build confidence.
By the end of the season, Meek played hot again. Last weekend at the Southeastern Conference Championship, Meek’s 10th-place finish produced Missouri’s best result and Meek’s first top 10 of the year.
“I feel a lot better about golf this semester,” she said. “I enjoyed it a lot more. … I’ve grown a lot mentally.”
From what Missouri coach Stephanie Priesmeyer sees, she agrees.
“I think she finally settled in to college life,” Priesmeyer said. “I think she feels confident in that part of her life.”
Meek plans on returning to Scotland this summer to defend her title in the Scottish Ladies Junior Open. She also aims to compete in the European Ladies Amateur Team Championship, which she played in last summer as a part of Team Scotland.
But Meek says the trip back to Scotland this summer will feel less like a trip back home than it did in the winter.
“As far as I’m concerned, (the people here at Missouri) are my friends,” Meek said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without them for three months.”
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.