The Swedish Sensation
May 22, 2003
There have been a lot of great female golfers at USC through the years--Jill McGill, Jennifer Rosales, Candie Kung, to name a few--but not all of them can lay claim to the title of 'Greatest.'
Consider Mikaela Parmlid for that title, if you will.
The senior from Gothenburg, Sweden, has quietly reached a level of individual success unparalleled in Women of Troy history and, along the way, she's helped lift USC women's golf to stratospheric heights, firmly ensconced as an elite program on the national scene. What's more, she has been the key ingredient as the Women of Troy move to the brink of their first NCAA championship, with herself on the cusp of her own NCAA crown.
But it wasn't always a foregone conclusion that things would turn out this way. On her own, 8,000 miles from friends and family made her first year at USC a rough one.
'I struggled as a freshman,' said Parmlid, who is a two-time first team All-American. 'I was far from home. I almost didn't make it through.'
But make it through she did, mostly through sheer determination and the support of her coaches and teammates. Along the way, she discovered another benefit to being a USC athlete, something that made her stronger--the Trojan Family.
'When I first came to USC, they told me about this 'Trojan Family' and I thought it was all nonsense,' said Parmlid. 'But I understand it now. I can see the Trojan Family and I see how great it is. When we go to our tournaments, we meet them all over the country. I know that I will meet a lot of them throughout my life and that I will always have something in common with them.
'USC has been very good to me. It's great to be at a school that focuses on athletics so much. As athletes, we are given so many opportunities. I am very gratefule.'
Parmlid has taken advantage of those opportunities, improving dramatically over the arc of her USC career. As a freshman, she had a stroke average of 74.6. As a senior, she has a stroke average of 72.8. She didn't win her first tournament until her junior year. This year, she has won a USC-season-record three tournament titles. Her four career titles are tied with former All-American Denise Strebig for the most ever by a Women of Troy golfer. If Parmlid can walk away with the NCAA individual title and deliver a championship for her team, there would be no doubt that she is the greatest USC women's golfer of all time.
'Doing well at USC means a lot to me,' said Parmlid. 'I was very happy to break that record for most wins in a season. I'm really proud to be part of USC. There have been some great players here. I want people to think well of me.
'But winning this title is something I want to do for the school and for my team. It means so much to them.'
Parmlid has an aggressive, gambling style on the golf course. She is a powerful hitter who is not afraid to take chances. As an underclassman, that attitude sometimes got her into trouble on the golf course, as she had a hard time staying consistent. But as a senior, she has added another element to her game: discipline. Along with her competitive drive and mental toughness, that's the makeup of an excellent golfer.
'She has tremendous concentration and determination,' said USC head coach Andrea Gaston. 'She is a prime candidate to be Player of the Year in women's golf.'
No doubt, that would be a great honor to leave with. But when she looks back on her days at USC, it's not the accolades and titles that stick out, but rather the special times she spent with her teammates and friends.
'I remember most the last round of last year's NCAA West Regionals,' said Parmlid. 'We only had four players on the team. We were the 'Fab Four.' I shot a 68 in the final round and that helped the team make it to the NCAAs. I think that sticks out the most in my mind because we all bonded so well. I will also remember hanging out with friends like (USC tennis player) Jewel Peterson and (former USC basketball player) Tenille Grant when we were roommates as freshmen. And going to football games. That was fun.'
'I think I have developed a lot at USC, both as a golfer and as a person. I don't think I would be ready to turn pro if it wasn't for my time at USC. These four years have treated me great.'
But one can only look back so much before the future beckons, and Parmlid has some big plans down the road.
'I will graduate with a degree in economics,' said Parmlid, who enjoys playing tennis and skiing when not on the golf course. 'I will then go to qualifying school in the fall and play some tour events in Sweden.
'And women's golf will be an Olympic sport in 2008. That is definitely a goal of mine, to play for my country in that Olympics. That would be special.'
And if she were to make it to the medal stand, would she be inclined to sneak in a 'victory' sign for the Trojan family watching on television?
'Definitely,' said Parmlid.
by Chris Huston, USC Golf Sports Information Director