Upperclassman golfer looks to motivate team

Daily Illini File Photo

Daily Illini File Photo

By Jon Gluskin

When Megan Godfrey began high school, she had a decision to make. She was a swimmer and a golfer. With both sports competing during the same season, she had to choose one or the other.

She chose the latter.

“I pretty much chose golf because I thought it would be better in the long run,” Godfrey said. “My golf game was increasing and getting better faster than my swimming was, so I quit swimming because I knew that my golf game would take me further.”

Godfrey, a junior in commerce, is consistently a top scorer for the Illini. As an upperclassman, she also has the new role of setting an example for the younger golfers.

“I’d like to think that I’m a leader for the younger girls, since we have a young team this year – five freshmen – and I’d like to think that my team can depend on me,” Godfrey said. “I just would like to be a motivator for our team because I really see good things in the future with them – all of our young talent. As soon as it comes together, I think that we could be a really competitive team.”

Women’s golf head coach Paula Smith is counting on Godfrey for similar reasons, but at the same time isn’t placing the sole responsibility in her hands.

“Her role on the team, I see as one of the upperclassmen who has had experience since she was a freshman, so I see her as a mentor,” Smith said. “I’m relying on my four upperclassmen to all do that, so it’s not going to be on one person’s shoulders. It’s a shared responsibility.”

Godfrey was born on April 10, 1984. She resides in Homewood, Ill. For a golfer, Godfrey was born into the right family.

“I started pretty young,” Godfrey said. “My dad’s a teaching professional, so I got into golf (around) six or seven.”

Godfrey chose Illinois over a handful of Big Ten schools. She said she knew she wanted to stay in the Midwest, and she really liked the team. She also liked a program that was becoming increasingly competitive.

In her freshman season, Godfrey competed in four tournaments, with her top finish being 13th place at the Illini Spring Classic.

Last year, Godfrey played in all five tournaments and finished second for the Illini in stroke average. She finished as the top Illinois scorer in two tournaments and had a seventh-place finish at the Pat Bradley Championships, the best finish of her career.

However, her most memorable golf moment came outside the NCAA season.

“This summer I had an opportunity to play at the U.S Women’s Public Links Championship in Williamsburg, Va.,” Godfrey said. “They have a team total, and the team with qualifiers from Illinois won the team title. I played the eventual champion; I lost to her, but I was winning for a while, so I felt pretty good about that.”

Godfrey led the Illini in one of the two tournaments this season with an 11th place finish.

Smith has seen her player grow throughout her career at Illinois in various ways.

“I would say that she has matured,” Smith said. “She’s continually becoming more confident with tournaments and everything, especially with national tournaments. Megan has been very dedicated during the summers to play in as many national tournaments as she can, and that experience really helps her during the school year. She is also very good with academics. She is the ultimate student-athlete on the golf course and in the classroom.”

For now, Godfrey wants to keep working on her putting. If she can improve her short game and combine it with her consistent long game, which she said was her greatest strength, she can work toward her goals: placing better at the Big Ten Championships, winning her first tournament and getting an individual bid to regionals.

“Hopefully, by the end of my four years here, I’ll have been seen as a successful golfer and have put Illinois on the map,” Godfrey said. “I’d like to see that the team gets more competitive each year and hopefully becomes known as a great golf school.”