PETALING JAYA: What a pleasant start to the 2021-22 season for Zulaikah Nurziana Nasser after she was crowned the USA Intercollegiate winner, marking her maiden victory in her US collegiate golf career.
The 20-year-old, a second-year student at the Texas-based Sam Houston State University, impressed with rounds of 68, 66 and 67 for a 15-under 201 total to finish two shots ahead of teammate Jennifer Herbst at the Magnolia Grove Crossings Golf Course in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday.
The individual brilliance from Zulaikah and Herbst also inspired Sam Houston to the team title as they emerged the runaway champions with a combined 31-under 833, winning by a commanding 19-stroke margin ahead of second-placed University of South Florida.
Zulaikah has made 12 appearances for her side since 2019 and the closest she came to winning a tournament was when she finished tied-third at the HBU Husky Invitational in March this year.
She also played well by notching four other top-10 finishes in the 2020-2021 season, which was shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m absolutely lost for words as this is my first collegiate win!” Zulaikah wrote on her Instagram.
“I am so blessed to have these girls (teammates) and coach by my side and just knowing whatever the outcome is, I have them in my corner always cheering.”
Zulaikah was also delighted to have set her career-best 54-hole score, which matched Sam Houston’s lowest individual score of their women’s golf team recorded by Hanna Alberto in last year’s Texas State Invitational.
“Playing my personal best this week (of 15-under) has really taught me how powerful your mind can be, and you can always be in control of what your mind and body does.
“It took me a while to find happiness, confidence and that little piece missing in me to accomplish what I’ve done this week but thankfully, I’ve had the most amazing people beside me going through my emotional roller coasters.”
Zulaikah’s victory continued Malaysian golfers’ fine run in the US from last season where four players had tasted success.
The four were Ashley Lau (University of Michigan), Audrey Tan (University of North Texas), Allycia Gan (Missouri Western State University) and Nur Syazani Amalia Shahzan (Oakland University).