Muyu Wu sets example for young team in final season

The senior is playing her best golf at the end of her already successful career.

Junior Muyu Wu plays at the fourth annual Minnesota Invitational on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 at the Minikahda Club.

Chelsea Gortmaker, Daily File Photo

Junior Muyu Wu plays at the fourth annual Minnesota Invitational on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 at the Minikahda Club.

Nick Jungheim

In the fall of her senior season, Muyu Wu’s best finish was a tie for 33rd place in the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate. This spring, she’s placed in the top-30 in all four of the team’s tournaments.

Wu has saved the best golf of her collegiate career at Minnesota until the very end, setting multiple career bests. A first-round 66 in the Moon Golf Invitational tied an 18-hole school record. At the Juli Inkster Invitational one month later, Wu notched her first career top-five finish with an even-par 216.

“As a senior, I’m glad I can get some low scores to help the team,” Wu said following the Juli Inkster Invitational. “I hope in the following tournaments I can get it going and get more under-par rounds.”

It’s no coincidence that the team’s improvement this spring has paralleled Wu’s strong play. With Wu leading the way at the Juli Inskter Invitational, the team finished in the top 10 for the first time in 2018-19, coming in seventh place. In both that tournament and the Moon Golf Invitational, the team shot 884 (+20), their best finishes to par this season

“When [Wu] was off over the [winter] break, she worked really hard on her game to get it back where she wanted to,” head coach Michele Redman said. “I think they’re all just starting to get better and starting to believe and believe in each other, and I think that really helps.”

Minnesota has a young team this season; their primary lineup consists of Wu, sophomores Joanne Free, Grace Kellar and Kate Lillie and freshman Karen Zhang. With so much youth on the team, Wu is a good example of the program’s future potential. The hope for the team is that their young players can all end their careers in such an impressive manner. Already, they’ve all shown glimpses of excellence that has the team exited for the years to come.

“I’m really impressed and I’m really proud,” Wu said following the Juli Inkster Invitational. “I have to say our team’s pretty young, because we don’t have any juniors and I’m the only senior in the lineup this time. But, our freshman and sophomores are doing a great job. They’re working really hard and shooting low scores.”

Since coming to Minnesota as a freshman, Wu has been a mainstay in coach Redman’s lineup. In her time with the team, she’s competed in all but one tournament. She set a program record in 2015-16 for lowest stroke average by a freshman with a 75.75.

Looking at the Gophers’ current roster, there are many similarities between the young golfers and Wu. Free, Kellar and Lillie have competed in every tournament since joining the program, and Zhang has played in seven of the team’s eight tournaments so far this year. Lillie said already having that experience will be a big advantage for the team this postseason.

“Compared to a lot of teams where they only have their upperclassmen compete in Big Tens, just being able to be there as sophomores, having already played the course for one year, is going to be a huge advantage,” Lillie said. “We know exactly what we’re walking into; we understand the pressure that you feel.”

With her final regular season tournament behind her, Wu will enter the postseason of her senior year this weekend. Minnesota will compete with conference opponents in Maineville, Ohio for the Big Ten Championship beginning on Friday.