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Coach Farr-Kaye Previews the 2021 Season

Jan 22, 2021

Coach Farr-Kaye Announces 2021 Women's Golf Schedule | A tight-knit Arizona State women's golf team has grown even closer as they rally around coach Missy Farr-Kaye (Golfweek) | Announcement from Head Coach Missy Farr-Kaye

"It's a unique situation, it's a unique season': Sun Devil Women's Golf Head Coach Farr-Kaye gives updates on her health, previews the Spring season

Coach Farr-Kaye spoke at great length with local media members Friday, offering updates on her health after announcing in early January she had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer, while also previewing the start of the Sun Devils' season.

Farr-Kaye, who said in a Jan. 11 press release she was diagnosed in November, has been undergoing chemotherapy since. Her treatment is slated to end in mid-April, with doctors optimistic they caught it early enough so Farr-Kaye can make a full recovery. Juggling treatment as the start of the Sun Devils' season nears, the sixth-year head coach still expects to be heavily involved this spring.

"[My doctor] said, 'Not to take anything away from this chemotherapy regimen I want to put you on, because you're still going to have some side effects, you'll have some difficult days, but I really think you're going to be able to [remain involved and coaching].'

"[He said], 'You will have off-days, but you'll be able to do a lot. It just depends,' and so far, so good. I'd agree with that," she said.

With chemotherapy treatments scheduled for every-other Tuesday, Farr-Kaye has leaned on assistant coach Michelle Estill, who has stepped into a larger role on days her head coach doesn't feel well enough to coach.

"We check in every day because I don't want to be too far away from what's going on. I make plenty of suggestions, probably more than she'd like," Farr-Kaye joked, "but, she handles that really well."

"I looked at her at the beginning of this latest journey and said, 'This is more than you signed up for. I get that. But, it's going to be OK.' She's doing a great job and the team is in great hands in the days I'm not there."

It had been an emotional winter for Farr-Kaye and her team, who practically learned of the diagnosis together. One afternoon before practice, Farr-Kaye received a phone call from her doctor, who informed her of the news.

"They were in shock. We all shed tears together," she said. "It was devastating to see the look of concern and the mirroring of tears that was going on. It was hard. But here's the thing: We're in this together. They're on this journey with me every step of the way."

Following her announcement in early January, the first time she'd shared news of her diagnosis to the outside world, Farr-Kaye was overwhelmed with the support she received -- from coaches across the country, friends and members of ASU's athletics department, including the school's Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson and Arizona State University President Michael Crow.

"It's very heartwarming. It definitely makes the hard days easier knowing I have so many people pulling for me."

Now meeting with reporters virtually from her office and donning a maroon team polo, Farr-Kaye, a two-time breast cancer survivor, has been at practice all week and is currently "feeling good," just as the Sun Devils are gearing up for the season opener this weekend.

ASU will compete in the Match in the Desert tournament at Superstition Mountain Golf Club in Gold Canyon on Jan. 24-25, the third consecutive year it has played in this event.

Ten months removed from their last NCAA competition, Farr-Kaye has a squad that's poised to compete for a national title this spring. It's a team with an immeasurable ceiling, led by a dominant one-two punch of graduate student Olivia Mehaffey and sophomore Linn Grant, both who were active throughout the off-season playing in professional and amateur tournaments.

Mehaffey, a four-time All-American, decided to return for a fifth-year after last season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fresh off of playing in the December U.S. Women's Open, Farr-Kaye has one final go-around with a "once-in-a-generation collegiate player" in Mehaffey.

"Olivia is absolutely the leader. This is her team."

Grant, who authored a dominant freshman year last spring, also qualified and competed in the U.S. Open weeks ago. She put together consecutive rounds of two-under par to make the cut before finishing the prestigious tournament in the top-23.

"Linn is so purposeful, intentional, driven, a lot of fun, fun to coach. Her goal is to win every tournament, just like Olivia," Farr-Kaye said. "The two of them – they could be finishing one and two in the tournament every week."

It is a squad that mirrors Farr-Kaye's 2017 group, the last Sun Devil team to win a national title, the program's NCAA-best eighth championship. In '17 there was the veteran Monica Vaughn who paired so well with the young Mehaffey. This spring, it is the seasoned Mehaffey and the up-and-coming Grant.

It is a dangerous blend of new and old, a roster of eight that teems with veteran leadership and young talent.

"ASU is the host [of the national championship] at Grayhawk, and that's also a very big circle on that calendar. We're going to do everything we can to be at those finals and doing that," she said.

Farr-Kaye's soon to embark on her sixth season at the helm of the Sun Devils program, eyeing the ninth national title in school history, and doing so with unparalleled challenges thrown her way -- her health, the long off-season, the different-than-usual schedule that included several cancellations.

But, if there's golf involved, all will be well for Farr-Kaye.

"There's only so much Netflix you can watch on the days you're not feeling well, so [golf] is a great distraction," she laughed. "I can't wait to be back. It's hard to have a bad day when I'm at practice now because I'm just so grateful to be feeling well and to be here, to be enjoying being around these young women who are fantastic."

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