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Monday, August 2, 2021

The Devil inside her

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After her college career came to an anticlimactic end because of Covid-19, Olivia Mehaffey has decided to resurrect it, signing up for one more year at Arizona State.

It was only two months ago that the NCAA cancelled the rest of their season and ended what was a glittering collegiate career for star senior, Mehaffey.

The four time All-American said at the time:

“It breaks my heart to end my college career this way. But I am forever grateful for the past four years at ASU. Thankful for all the memories, growth and fun with a group of amazing people. Thank you to everyone for making my college experience special. Forever and always a Sun Devil.”

Little did Mehaffey or any of us quite realise the impact this global pandemic would have on the world ever since. Having graduated, the Tandragee and Royal County Down player looked set to take aim at LPGA Q-School and turn pro mid-season but with Q-Series now cancelled, Mehaffey has shifted the goalposts and will hope to complete a Masters in Organisational Leadership at Tempe instead.

“It’s been a roller coaster for the past few weeks, just not knowing what’s ahead,” Mehaffey said to GolfChannel.com.

“The way I look at it is I was very lucky; I had two great options. And it could also end up being a silver lining. It was going to be quite difficult to get sponsors. Maybe it’s a good thing to wait for another year.

“After all, one year in your life isn’t too much.”

Mehaffey’s new direction is proving a popular one amongst seniors with 15 players who finished this season ranked in the top 50 of Golfstat’s women’s rankings also choosing to return to school.

For Mehaffey, it means having the chance to defend her Pac-12 title with the dangling carrot of a fifth All-America honour very much in reach, not to mention a potential third Curtis Cup. Another NCAA Championship will certainly be on the agenda too.

“She kept saying this year in all of our team meetings that she wants to leave with another national championship,” said Head Coach, Missy Farr-Kaye. “She’d tell the other girls, ‘I want you guys to experience what I got to experience.’”

In the end, injury scuppered much of her season in 2019 while Mehaffey admits that the amount of pressure she mounted on herself upon her comeback didn’t help results in the Fall.

“I had really high expectations for myself; I wanted to leave a legacy, all these things that put pressure on you as a senior,” Mehaffey said. “And I didn’t play well at all in the fall.”

She was well on her way to rediscovering top form when play was abandoned this season because of Covid-19. With her decision now made to remain for one more year, who’s to say Mehaffey won’t go on to break more records as a Sun Devil.

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