Rachel Heck arrived on campus at Stanford 101 days in the past. For some time there, she questioned if the day would ever come. Like so many, she’d been a distant faculty freshman for the reason that fall, learning and working towards on her personal again residence in Memphis.
A cheerful Heck couldn’t wait to placed on a Stanford uniform, stay beside her teammates and create hype lists for the van. The Cardinal fell wanting the last word purpose, a crew title, once they misplaced to Arizona in time beyond regulation on a heartbreaking putt within the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. But Heck put collectively a season the golf world received’t quickly neglect.
“I don’t really think that any of us can wrap our arms around it,” mentioned Stanford coach Anne Walker.
On Monday, Heck was topped NCAA particular person champion. Now she’s the 2021 ANNIKA Award introduced by Stifel winner, given to the very best participant in Division I golf based mostly on a vote by her friends, plus coaches, golf media and SIDs. The honor additionally comes with an exemption into the Amundi Evian Championship, an LPGA main.
Heck remembers being a junior participant, excitedly working to her mom to share the information that the ANNIKA Award’s Instagram account had adopted her private account.
“I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she mentioned. “I thought maybe one day I could crack the list possibly. To actually be on the list and then actually win the award.”
Heck received six occasions over the course of 9 begins, turning into solely the third participant in historical past to brush the postseason by profitable convention, regionals and nationals. Annie Park did the identical at USC in 2013 as a freshman. Arizona’s Marisa Baena grew to become the primary participant to do it in 1996, additionally as a freshman. Both Heck and Park pulled off the trifecta of their first semester in class.
Anne Walker, Rachel Heck
Heck, who subsequent week competes within the U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic, competed within the 2018 Evian Championship, an LPGA main, and completed tied for forty fourth, calling it among the best weeks of her life.
“I can’t wait for another family trip to France,” she mentioned.
Heck received her final 5 consecutive occasions in faculty and had 12 consecutive rounds within the 60s, together with a 66 at Olympic from tees which are longer than the USWO setup and from Sunday gap places used on the 2012 U.S. Open. Her closing 74 on the NCAA Championship was her first over-par spherical since mid-March.
She ended the season ranked No. 1 by Golfweek and boasts the bottom scoring common in NCAA historical past, placing up a 69.72 common in 25 rounds. Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson set the earlier file of 69.76 in 2018.
Heck’s mother and father got here out to observe at Grayhawk as did Nora Tyson, the retired Navy vice admiral who helped encourage Heck to hitch the ROTC at Stanford in hopes of serving in the Air Force Reserve after she graduates.
“I think on the outside I looked OK,” mentioned Robert Heck after watching his daughter battle down the stretch for the NCAA title. “On the inside, I’m amazed I was able to stay on my feet.”
Heck suffered a again damage in the summertime between her sophomore and junior yr of highschool that put her in ache for the higher a part of 18 months. She went by a number of rounds of injections and dutifully did 90 minutes of remedy with her mom every day.
She was depressing on the golf course, her father mentioned. Heck mentioned she was drowning in self-afflicted stress. It was throughout that point interval that she began to discover the thought of the navy. When she got here again to golf after the damage and the pandemic, Heck reemerged with a brand new perspective.
“Her day and her mood is not defined by score,” mentioned Robert, “and that has freed her up.”
For Heck, the truth that her friends play a task within the award is particularly significant.
“They’re the reason I play golf,” she mentioned, “the reason I look forward to these tournaments … of course I love golf, but I was just so excited to hang out with my friends and have ping pong and putting contests.”
STANFORD, CA – MAY 12: Rachel Heck throughout the ultimate spherical of the NCAA Stanford Regional at Stanford Golf Course on May 12, 2021 in Stanford, California.
List of ANNIKA Award winners
2020 – Natalie Srinivasan, Furman
2019 – Maria Fassi, Arkansas
2018 – Maria Fassi, Arkansas
2017 – Leona Maguire, Duke
2016 – Bronte Law, UCLA
2015 – Leona Maguire, Duke
2014 – Alison Lee, UCLA