Kelli Strubinger’s second-place finish at last week’s Susie Maxwell Berning Classic was a reminder of how far she had come.
After a tough sophomore season last year for the Missouri women’s golf team, Strubinger said she felt burnt out. She didn’t always have the desire to play and felt like she needed a break.
So for about two months during the summer, she took some classes and relaxed. She practiced some golf, but did not compete in the tournaments that most of the golfers around the country were playing in.
Coming into the fall season a little rusty, she failed to qualify for the team’s first two tournaments.
Whether it was coming to the golf course to work on her swing and short game on the team’s day off or traveling to St. Louis once every month to get a lesson from her golf coach, Strubinger was doing whatever she could to better her game.
She says she wanted to spend every free minute she had on the course, putting in the hours necessary.
The funny thing, though, was the hard work she was putting in didn’t feel like work to her. She was enjoying it.
“There wasn’t a particular turning point when I regained my passion,” she said. “It’s just when you do something you love to do, sometimes you get overwhelmed by it. I just needed to take a step back and realize what I love about it.”
And what Strubinger loved about the game was the competition.
“I missed battling neck-and-neck with someone for 18 holes and then making a putt on the last hole to win it.”
She is the only Tiger to finish in the top 25 in all four tournaments and owns the lowest scoring average for the No. 16 team in the country.
Strubinger, an accounting major, was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 Women’s Golf Team on Tuesday for the second time.
All the while she is enjoying the game, with a smile on her face that her coach says is there even when things aren’t going well.
“She used to get upset when she would hit a bad shot or three-putt,” coach Stephnie Cooper said. “Now when something like that happens, she just smiles. She really just seems to be enjoying herself.”