Golf

Posted April 19th, 2018

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Story highlights
  • Kaitlynn Papp, as a freshman, is the No. 2-scoring golfer on the Texas women’s squad this year.
  • Papp hasn’t registered a bogey in her last 40 holes of competitive golf.
  • At Lake Travis, she paired with Alabama’s Kristen Gillman to win two UIL state team titles.

Due to a busy schedule, Texas golfer Sophia Schubert has missed five tournaments her senior year.

That’ll happen when you’re coming off a win in the U.S. Women’s Amateur and participating in two LPGA majors. She also had surgery on her wrist in December.

Schubert, however, will golf for the Longhorns this weekend. Texas has a Big 12 championship to defend, and Schubert joins sophomores Emilee Hoffman and Greta Isabella Voelker as the school’s reigning champions. That trio will accompany freshmen Kaitlyn Papp and Agathe Laisne to the Dallas Athletic Club.

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“Going back after we won last year, it’s a great feeling,” Schubert said. “We all have confidence going into this year’s postseason. I feel like our team is just getting better and better each year.”

Schubert is UT’s No. 1 golfer, which makes sense when you consider her résumé. Papp, however, might as well be teeing off from the 1B slot of UT’s lineup.

Schubert, the senior, and Papp, the freshman, rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the Big for scoring average — Schubert’s average score is 71.2, Papp’s is 71.6. Papp took individual honors at the Dr. Donnis Thompson and Northrop Grumman Intercollegiate tournaments. Texas coach Ryan Murphy has penciled Papp in as his No. 1 golfer in seven of UT’s 10 tournaments, and three of those lineups also featured Schubert.

Both Papp and Hoffman shot rounds of 64 at the Schooner Fall Classic in September. That score is a school record.

“I learned a lot in the fall, just about what I could do to get better with my golf game,” said Papp, who hasn’t had a bogey in her last 40 holes. “I worked really hard over break, even though it was really cold. I’ve worked hard this spring. It’s just coming together on the golf course so far, and it’s been fun.”

Lake Travis golfers Kaitlyn Papp (far left) and Kirsten Gillman (second from right) celebrate the Cavaliers’ District 14-6A championship on March 5, 2016. (John Gutierrez/Austin Community Newspapers)

This isn’t the first time that Papp has gone toe-to-toe with an older teammate. Papp, a 2017 graduate of Lake Travis, teamed with Kristen Gillman on the Cavaliers’ state championship teams in 2015 and 2016. Gillman, who is now a sophomore at Alabama, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2014.

Papp remains friends with Gillman, who actually won the aforementioned Schooner Fall Classic. Papp and Schubert both acknowledged each other’s competitiveness, and the elder statesman said “it’s good for both of us because we can feed off of each other.”

“Anytime you take a player like that and you put them beside a Sophia Schubert or a Kristen Gillman coming up through high school, it motivates that player to get better. I think that’s what happened with Kaitlyn,” Murphy said. “It reminds me of when Jordan (Spieth) arrived and Cody Gribble became really motivated and Dylan Frittelli became really motivated. They didn’t want a freshman beating them.”

Texas freshman Kaitlyn Papp is averaging 71.61 strokes per round. (UT Athletics)

During her childhood, Papp lived in North Carolina, Florida, Japan and Texas as her father was an occupational therapist in the Navy. She first picked up a golf club at the age of six, while keeping her father company on a driving range in Okinawa. She began to focus on golf a few years later and eventually chose it over soccer.

This weekend, Papp’s travels will take her to Dallas. Murphy said most of his golfers have never played at the par-72, 6,264-yard course. The Longhorns, though, are ranked seventh nationally and feeling confident.

“We’re all super excited to play,” Papp said. “We’ve had a pretty solid spring, so we have good momentum.”

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