Lady Paladin senior Natalie Srinivasan has been chosen as one of three finalists for the highest award given to a college golfer.
Srinivasan has been nominated to receive the Annika Award. The award is named for Hall of Fame golfer Annika Sorenstam and will be presented on May 8th.
Even with a shortened senior season Srinivasan had an outstanding year.
She earned first team All-American honors to go along with her rank as the number one women’s college golfer in the season ending GolfStat ranking.
“I am so proud of Natalie for being named a first team All-American,” said Furman head coach Jeff Hull. “This is the first time since 1998 that a Furman player has received this honor, and it validates the dedication and hard work she has exhibited since coming to Furman four years ago,” he said.
Just like everyone else in college golf Srinivasan would have liked to see the season be played to completion.
“I think everyone enters a season with some goals,” she said. “It didn’t turn out to be what it could be, but I’m thankful for what it was,” said Srinivasan.
While there would not be an opportunity for Srinivasan to win a second SoCon individual title or help her team to a sixth straight conference title, her season produced significant individual accomplishments which could only be topped by winning the Annika Award.
“It is kind of a bonus for the season. I wanted to be number 1. It is awesome and really something to hang your hat on,” she said.
In the final GolfStat rankings Sierra Brooks was listed in front of Srinivasan. The outstanding Florida golfer gave up the final portion of her senior season and turned pro.
When Brooks left school it allowed Srinivasan to move up to the top spot.
Before you think Srinivasan benefited from a career choice by the top player keep this in mind. One of the qualifiers used to produce the ranking for GolfStat was head to head competition.
When the two were in the same field at the Glass City Invitational played at the legendary Inverness Club, Srinivasan won the tournament with Brooks finishing four shots back in second place.
The tournament was the first time the course, which had hosted 8 Major Championships, would host a major women’s tournament.
“To get a win at this famous course in the first women’s college tournament played here makes it pretty special,” she said back in September.
After the win in Toledo, Srinivasan returned home to win the Lady Paladin Invitational played on her home course.
A final round 4-under par 68 earned her a very satisfying two shot victory.
“This has been something that I have wanted since I was a freshman. It is very special to play at home and have all of the families here to support us,”she said after the win.
After two victories and her resume from the three previous seasons which included a SoCon player of the year award, Srinivasan was invited to participate in the Curtis Cup practice sessions.
After the semester break, Srinivasan won her third tournament of the season by edging out her freshman teammate Anna Morgan for the title at the Moon Golf Invitational in Melbourne, Florida.
“I was so excited and humbled to be able to get my third win this season. This was a great event with a really good field,” she said.
While the three wins would be any golfer’s season highlight, it was actually a second place finish at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate that stood out.
Srinivasan was the runner-up at the tournament played at the Long Cove Club on Hilton Head Island.
“The tournament was special for me. I had not played well at that course and I love the course and the tournament, so to see many of the things I had been working on come together that week was really great,” she said.
The tournament was the last event before the SoCon, Furman and the NCAA ended the college golf season.
Now Srinivasan is preparing for the next step in her golf career.
She earned conditional status on the Symetra Tour at LPGA Q School last year and she intends to turn pro in the near future.
In the meantime, Srinivasan is finishing her course work remotely at Furman and will graduate this spring.
She is playing as much as she can and keeping up her conditioning in her family’s basement instead of the Furman strength facility.
As she prepares for the next step of her golf career the ability to draw on the experience and advice of the Lady Paladins two most successful grads and Hall of Fame golfers has been important.
“I’ve talked with both Beth (Daniel) and Betsy (King) and they have helped me understand what I need to make the transition to professional golf,” she said.
Carrying the recognition that in her last college year she finished the season as the top ranked player in the country can not do anything but help her begin play at the next level.
“I’ve always wanted to play professional golf. I’ve put a lot of work and time into it and being top ranked is awesome and a great way to start my pro career,” she said.