UCLA's Kono Consistently Consistent
By Ryan Reiswig
It's safe to say if you're a golfer and pattern your game after Annika Sorenstam, you'll likely pick up proper golf techniques and ideas.
However, this doesn't mean you're going to be any good. After all, many of today's golfers try to pattern their games after the likes of Tiger Woods and other pros, yet end up shooting an 18-hole score high enough to fill two scorecards.
In the case of UCLA's Stephanie Kono, not only has she picked up some things from watching Sorenstam, her favorite player, she's applied them to her game and it's helped make her the player she is today.
"I've tried to be pretty consistent with my emotions," says Kono. "That's one thing that I tried to take from [Sorenstam] is how she handles herself on the golf course."
In her career so far, Kono has been consistent with more than just her emotions. Kono, a junior, was named first-team All-America in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, and is well on her way to being named a first-teamer once again when the current season ends.
Her coach, Carrie Forsyth, also mentions Kono's demeanor when talking about what makes her excel.
"She's a very calm, controlled player, even quietly intimidating to other players because she just doesn't get flustered," says Forsyth, in her 12th season as the Lady Bruins' head coach.
Kono's goal upon graduating from college is to play on the LPGA Tour and she's doing everything right to achieve it. Currently, Kono is ranked No. 9 in the country in Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and got the very honorable opportunity of being selected to play for the United States on 2010's Curtis Cup Team.
"I honestly never thought I'd play in [the Curtis Cup]," says Kono. "It was really special to be chosen for that team."
Golf, in many ways more than other sports, requires the player to be extremely consistent to be considered elite. Unlike in baseball where a hitter can fail two out of three times and still be an all-star, if a golfer failed two out of every three stokes he or she will not be successful at the sport. Consistency is a key to Kono's game.
"She's probably one of the best ball strikers out there in college golf," says Forsyth. "Her consistency, her accuracy, particularly with her irons is exceptional."
Kono sees this as a major reason why she's able to score so low so consistently.
"I hit the ball straight pretty consistently, so I never hit the ball off line," says Kono, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii. "I have a lot of birdie opportunities. Most of the time, I have easy pars and I think by doing that consistently I can't really shoot over par that often."
Kono is hoping to bring back the Pac-10 title to UCLA. The Bruins haven't won the title since 2006 and Kono will be a huge part if the Bruins are able to win it. Her team's success, above all individual accolades, is most important to Kono.
"She's very hungry for our team to win a national championship," says Forsyth. "Stephanie's a great team player and I truly believe she cares more about how the team does than how she does individually. I also know she's an extremely competitive person and even though she doesn't always show that outwardly, inside she's one of the most competitive people that I know. If we won the championship and even if she didn't play well, she'd be ecstatic."
Once all is said and done in her college career and she receives her diploma, it'll be time to take the next step in her golf career. There is no question, according to Forsyth, what her professional career will bring.
"On the tour, without question in my mind," says Forsyth of where Kono will be after college. "I think she already has so many of the pieces that she needs to be a tour player, and I really think for her, if she just starts making a few more putts she's just going to dominate. I think she'll be a really successful tour player."
Kono, although a bit more modestly, says the same thing.
"Hopefully I'll be playing on the tour and have had a good career where I'm in contention a lot," says Kono. "That's all I can really ask for. I'd love to win some major championships and tour events but hopefully if I'm in the mix all the time that it'll happen for me."