Stevens: Leaving Bad Shots Behind Her Makes a Fun Future for Manon De Roey

Sept. 15, 2012

New Mexico Lobo Women's Golf - At the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational

When/Where: 8 a.m., Monday-Tuesday - UNM Championship Course

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

In making her decision to become a Lobo golfer, Manon De Roey did some studying. She looked at pictures - of herself.

The pictures were from recruiting trips into Colorado, Georgia and New Mexico and De Roey noticed a pattern in the pictures from her tour of the University of New Mexico and the top-level Lobo digs at the Championship Course.

In those Kodak Lobo moments, "in every single picture here she was smiling and laughing," said Lobo Coach Jill Trujillo. "That pretty much did it. There has to be a clink and a chemistry that happens, and it did."

Of course, there was more work involved in bringing De Roey over from Schilde, Belgium. Coach Trujillo had to make a trip to Finland to watch the European Girls Championships and do some wooing.

"That's where I found her and Sofia (Hoglund)," said Trujillo. "Manon was one of two players who shot under par in the two qualifying rounds. So, I watched her all week. We attached ourselves to her and didn't let her go."

Trujillo said the first time she talked to De Roey, the future Lobo, "had ice cream all over her mouth." Trujillo didn't say the flavor, but chocolate might be a good guess. De Roey said her favorite food back in Belgium - no surprise here - is Belgium chocolate. Her favorite food in Albuquerque is a shredded beef, green chile burrito.

Yes, De Roey's tastes have grown a bit in her third year in America. So has her golf. De Roey threw out a mild shocker in her first tournament this fall. The junior won a tournament hosted by Colorado State and set a UNM program record for the lowest 54-hole total at 69-68-70 - 207.

The old record was set by All-American and current LPGA pro, Jodi Ewart, at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational. That tourney will be held his coming Monday and Tuesday at the UNM Championship Course.

"I didn't think about (the record) and didn't even know about it until I finished," said De Roey. "That's pretty cool. I was just playing my game and trying to have fun and enjoy being out there."

One key to De Roey's game is the same thing she saw in the pictures that helped bring her to UNM - being relaxed and having fun. What De Roey struggled with in her first two seasons at UNM is a problem common to golfers. She couldn't always leave the troubling past behind her.

"In the past, when I made a bogey, I probably made a bogey on the next hole. I carried it on," said the 20-year-old junior. "Now, I can leave bad things behind. I think about moving forward and staying positive."

Said Trujillo: "She used to be an emotional player and she has wrangled that pretty well. That sometimes happens with age and maturity. Manon is really steady. She doesn't hit many shots that are off line and her distance control has gotten a lot better. She used to hit it too far (coming into the greens)."

Maybe those too-long iron shots are a carryover from De Roey's youth. She started playing field hockey in Belgium when she was around five-years-old. "It's kind of the same swing and I got power from that swing," she said. De Roey added golf to her resume around 12.

"My first golf shot was pretty good," she said. "It was an iron seven. It went about 100 meters. I thought, `That's pretty good.'"

De Roey, 5-foot-2, also hits it pretty far. When asked how far she bangs it off the tee box, she said, "Can I say in meters?" She then converted her answer to "around 250 yards."

In the CSU tourney, that was far enough. She also controlled her iron distance coming into the greens and made some putts. "I just have more experience now and I feel more comfortable on the course," she said.

De Roey and her teammates should feel comfortable Monday and Tuesday as they track down a title on their home grass. De Roey is coming off an impressive win, Sofia Hoglund is the tourney's defending champion, and Sammi Stevens finished third in 2011. Baylor is back to defend the team title and the Bears are good.

De Roey set a New Mexico record on the road, but said she won't be placing any unnecessary pressure on herself on Lobo soil.

"I won't go out thinking about playing better," she said. "I did that in the past, thinking, `I have to play better this time out.' That doesn't really work. I'll just go out and play my game and see what happens. You can't do more than trying your best. I'll go out and try to have fun."

Having fun might be an easy thing for De Roey to do on the Championship Course. That's one of the reasons she came to UNM.