Sept. 18, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior Liz Nagel has been named the Big Ten Women's Golfer of the Week, the conference office announced on Wednesday afternoon. Nagel won her first collegiate tournament last weekend at the Mary Fossum Invitational at Forest Akers West Golf Course on the campus of MSU with a 1-over-par 217 (68-75-74). Her first-round 68 (-4) was a career low and tied the second-lowest single-round score in Spartan history. This marks the first time in her career she has been named Big Ten Golfer of the Week.
It was an especially emotional victory for Nagel, as her grandfather, Jon Sanford, passed away last Thursday (Sept. 12) before the start of the tournament.
"It was very emotional for me, all of my family is here and I'm really glad they could be here," said Nagel following the tournament. "This week was upsetting for me and I contemplated not playing, but I thought there's no better way to honor my grandpa than to go out here and try and win this tournament. In my mind, I was focusing on getting the team win, and I played well, and I said, `OK, let's go win this whole thing for him.' I've never had this many family members watch me before. It was really special to have everybody around me. It feels really good to all be together, even though it's a tough time."
As a team, the Spartans defeated Ohio State by four shots to win their home tournament for the eighth time in the past 11 years. MSU finished with a 54-hole total of 28-over 892 (288-296-308), while the Buckeyes closed at 896 (296-296-304).
"We just weren't really sure what was going to happen with Liz - that kid has been through so much - I'm just so proud of her and her family for how they handled the weekend," said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. "They were all very strong for each other and for her."
Nagel entered the day with a one-shot lead, and found herself in a battle for first all day against Ohio State's Illen Domela. Nagel and Domela, who were in the same group, traded the lead throughout the round, but Nagel held a two-shot advantage with three holes remaining and extended the lead to three after recording pars on 16, 17 and 18.
"(My grandpa) definitely made me earn it," said Nagel, whose previous best finish was third at the Lady Buckeye Invitational in April. "The rain was on and off, and it was a little back and forth (with Domela). I made the turn at even after making a couple of birdies on 7 and 9, which were hard holes today. I knew the back nine was comfortable for me; those last two holes I said just finish strong and get pars, and pars were tough today. If you could get pars, you were doing well. Coach walked with me the last three holes and it really helped me stay calm."
Nagel said the memory of her grandfather helped her get through the tournament.
"My grandpa was an athlete," she said. "Anyone that knew him, they knew he was the biggest Spartan fan and he really never tried to miss an event; Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina, he went everywhere to watch us. I really dug deep, and I knew that's what it was going to take. I was upset, and we're all sad about it, but he never would want me to sit the bench, ever. I went out there, and I felt comfortable, and I did what I do best."
Nagel and the Spartans continue the fall season this weekend (Sept. 20-22) at the Mason Rudolph Championship at the Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.