By Bradley DePrez
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Over the past four seasons, head coach Christie Martens and the Iowa State women’s golf team has strung together five-straight NCAA Regional appearances.
During that time span, the Cyclones have seen senior stars in Pennapa Pulsawath, Laurence Herman, Victoria Stefansen and Punpaka Phuntumabamrung step up and lead the team in their final seasons. Now, as the Cyclones prepare for their school-record-breaking fifth-straight NCAA Regional berth, the team has found yet another senior leader in Sasikarn On-iam.
“She has been such a huge part of helping our program get to this level,” Martens said about On-iam. “She has established and brought us to that level where there is something to strive for.”
It should not come to anyone’s surprise that On-iam, a native of Bangkok, Thailand, has emerged as the pacesetter for this year’s Cyclone team after achieving success in her first three seasons.
In her rookie campaign, On-iam earned All-Big 12 honors while compiling the best stroke average by a freshman in Iowa State history (74.66).
“I didn’t really expect anything,” On-iam said about when she first arrived on campus. “I just came and tried to play my best.”
As a three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection, On-iam’s dedication also reaches into the classroom. On-iam’s commitment to her studies while also excelling on the golf course is truly something to admire.
“For our team, we not only care about golf, but we also care about school,” On-iam said. “Coach (Martens) wants us to be successful in everything that we do.”
On-iam’s leadership has not gone unnoticed by Martens.
“She has been an awesome leader and I think she’s able to help mentor the younger players,” Martens said. “She’s really like the team mom, always planning and preparing. She always has everything ready in studies and her golf. It’s just neat to see that pay off for her.”
On-iam joins an outstanding pedigree of other Cyclone veteran leaders. Herman and Stefansen led the 2010-11 Iowa State team in their senior seasons. During their time at Iowa State, the power duo garnered 25 top-10 finishes, three Academic All-Big 12 awards and each was named to the All-Big 12 team their senior season. On-iam has been surrounded by defiant leadership from the moment she stepped on campus.
“I tried to do everything that (the upperclassmen) did,” On-iam said. “I just followed them.”
Last season, another Bangkok native in Phuntumabamrung led the Cyclones. Phuntumabamrung was a three-time Big 12 All-Tournament team member, finishing runner-up medalist at the 2013 Big 12 Championship. Phuntumabamrung was instrumental in grooming On-iam.
This season, it’s On-iam’s turn. Just like her predecessors, On-iam has pieced together one of the greatest seasons in school history. Ranking No. 83 according to Golfstat, On-iam has compiled a stroke average of 73.28, which is on pace to break the single-season scoring mark. Her career average of 74.99 is also the best in school history.
On-iam has been one of the most consistent performers in the Big 12 this season, finishing outside of the top-30 individually in just one event. It was her play at the Hurricane Invitational in March, however, that gave her a giant boost of confidence.
On-iam started the event with back-to-back rounds of 69 to become the third ISU golfer in school history to fire back-to-back rounds in the 60s, joining teammates Cajsa Persson and Prima Thammaraks. She would go on to post a final-round 73 for a career-best 211 and tie for medalist honors.
She was named Big 12 Golfer of the Month (March) for her impressive performance.
“It’s really exciting for her,” Martens said. “She’s done a great job of embracing what we’ve been trying to get her to work on and it’s nice to see her rewarded for it.”
To add to her outstanding career in the classroom, On-iam tacked on her third Academic All-Big 12 honor this season.
“My first priority when I came here was school,” On-iam said. “I think education is really important. You have to have something to hold onto after you graduate.”
On-iam tied for ninth at the 2014 Big 12 Championships to garner All-Tournament honors for the first time in her career. She became the first Cyclone in program history to earn All-Big 12 honors twice when she was named to the Coaches All-Big 12 team.
Regardless which career path On-iam chooses after graduation, you can bet on she will be a success.