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Ole Miss senior Kennedy Swann ends college career in style as national champion

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After main Ole Miss to a dominant victory on the NCAA Championship – the first women’s title in faculty historical past – head coach Kory Henkes stated, “If you get the right people on your team anything can happen.”

When you take a look at the Rebel roster, Kennedy Swann stands out.

The Austin, Texas, native with the massive smile and even greater sport has been the emotional chief and a sparkplug for Ole Miss, however this weekend at Grayhawk Golf Club virtually by no means occurred for 2 causes. The first? Swann, a Clemson switch two years in the past, was not sure about returning for a fifth 12 months after COVID-19 worn out the 2019-2020 season. The second?

“To be honest, at first I told her no,” Henkes stated of the preliminary name a couple of switch. “I just didn’t know if it was the right fit for where we were going with our program at the time. After talking to her I said, ‘alright, I’ll give you a second chance, but if you mess up, you’re done.’ It was strict for the first year, and she didn’t blow it. She took advantage of every opportunity.”

‘We had our moments’

Both Henkes and assistant coach Zack Byrd uttered these phrases when speaking about Swann’s begin in Oxford.

“We’ve had our moments and she was a challenge when she got here, but it’s been unbelievable to watch her mature and see her game get better. She was always the one asking to go over stats, asking what can I do to get better,” stated Byrd, who works loads with Swann and was on the bag for her quarterfinal run on the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur. “Coming in she was averaging 76 and now she’s under par. It’s been one of the most fulfilling moments of my life to work with her.”

“We had our moments, not every one was great, but that’s what gets us (to a national championship),” echoed Henkes. “We hold them accountable, and if we don’t do that early on, we don’t get here today.”

The closing shot

As if making faculty historical past in her closing occasion wasn’t spectacular sufficient, Swann referred to as her shot.

“She called me and Kory and said, ‘If I’m coming back we’re gonna win a national championship, right?’”

Right she was.

Swann completed 3-0 in match play this week and by no means noticed the 18th inexperienced after making birdie on her closing stroke-play gap on Monday. Not solely that, she ended her college career in style along with her household by her aspect, each step of the way in which.

“To dream this for your kid when they’re 10 years old and you see the talent, the fight they have in their heart, the want to compete and the will to win, to see it play out like this, knowing this was her very last golf tournament, to be here at the very last and see her hit that shot on 17 to seal the match, it was just nuts,” stated her father, Jay Swann.

That shot on 17? Just a knockdown 60-degree from 86-some yards to a foot, resulting in a conceded birdie and a vital second level for the Rebels in opposition to Oklahoma State’s Maja Stark, a finalist for the ANNIKA Award and the No. 6-ranked player in the country.

“That was pure luck or something else came over me because that was not my intention,” she stated along with her signature smile and fun. “My intention was get it on the green somewhere and make her make birdie to beat me and go to 18.”

“I hit it and thought, ‘that’s either going to be really, really good or its going to land next to the pin and roll off the back of the green and I’m going to have a tough chip,’” defined Swann. “I saw it land and saw her pick up my ball and throw it in the rough so I thought, ‘well, that must’ve been pretty good.’”

Family enterprise

The Swann’s purchased an RV – they name it the bus – the summer time earlier than Kennedy’s senior 12 months of highschool, and it’s been put to good use the final 12 months.

“With COVID, travel was difficult,” stated Jay. “So we loaded up the bus and drove from Austin, Texas, to Washington, D.C. for the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur in the summer. We knew this spring would be her last go around so we loaded up the bus again and drove to Florida in February.”

“When she committed to that fifth year I told Jay I really want to go to every tournament,” stated Kennedy’s mom, Laura. “He said, ‘okay, let’s make it happen.’”

NCAA Women's Championship

NCAA Women’s Championship

Ole Miss golfer Kennedy Swann celebrates along with her father Jay Swann after defeating Oklahoma State in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club. (Photo: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

Laura, a counselor and adjunct college on the University of Texas, labored from the RV when she was out on the highway. Jay, a lieutenant for the Austin Police Department, would fly again dwelling to work and make it to tournaments when he may on the weekends. Laura spent seven weeks on the highway watching her daughter grow to be one of many nation’s finest gamers.

Swann is exempt into the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur, and the household will likely be “loading up the bus” for the drive to Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, in about 5 weeks.

On the highway once more.

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