The 2016 Mid-American Conference Championships had just ended and Hailey Hrynewich stood in third-place after a breakout tournament and season.
Hrynewich had just set the Ohio record for a three-round score with a two-under-par 214 as well as a MAC Championship single round record with a 67, five-under-par.
Is Hrynewich aiming for a better score this year?
"One-hundred-percent, that's definitely what I'm shooting for and I feel like (I) always will shoot like a 70, 71," Hrynewich said. "I just never quite get in the sixties, I'm consistent but to be able (to) like go low is pretty cool."
Hrynewich has accomplished many records while at Ohio: the lowest three-round score in Ohio history, tied for the lowest single-round score in history, the lowest career scoring average, the lowest season average, the winner of Ohio's only four individual titles since 2004 and part of the only two team titles since 2004.
But of all things, a summer of not playing much led to one of the best seasons in Ohio history. Hrynewich had the lowest career scoring average for Ohio as she entered her senior year, but she's taken it one step further.
Hrynewich is averaging 73.77 strokes per round this year and doubled the number of tournaments that she has won, the only individual wins for Ohio since 2004.
“I was so much more excited to come back and finally golf again, so when I got back this fall I just really enjoyed it,” Hrynewich said. “I think having fun with it again and remembering why I love the sport so much helped me to get better.”
Hrynewich spent the summer between her junior and senior year with an internship with the Tampa Bay Lightning for sports broadcasting. That enjoyment pushed Hrynewich to train harder going into her final season.
For the first two years on campus Hrynewich was the second-best golfer on the team. But most recently, she has ascended to the best for her final two years.
"She's always been a really amazing golfer but I feel like the past two years she's really stood out,” Lily Pendy said. “She's improved so much as she has so much passion for the game and it’s really coming out, especially the past two years."
At the Lady Colonel Classic this year, Hrynewich shot a 232 over three rounds. It was her worst score of the season. The improvements are easily shown, as that score would have been good for her in the past. Now, it's a ‘bad’ score.
“To be upset about a couple of 76's, I would've been OK with that my freshman year so it’s definitely good," Hrynewich said.
The improvement Hrynewich has had on the course and off opens the possibility of a professional career for her and affects the whole Ohio program for the future.
The Final Year
In college, every athlete is only allowed to compete for four years without receiving a waiver. So, there is only a certain amount of time each athlete has for them to make an impact on the program of the school they are at.
But Hrynewich's impact came immediately and carried throughout her first three years. Now, she's having her best season yet.
She already has two tournament wins on the season, equal to the number in her previous three seasons and tied for the lowest individual round in Ohio history in the first tournament of the year.
Improving on last year’s MAC Championships will be a tough task, but this year Hrynewich has been more consistent than ever as she aims to go for more records.
She has always had a positive attitude but has focused on being consistently positive on and off the golf course.
“She just shines really bright and she always has a smile on her face,” Pendy said. “She never has an off-day, it seems like she's just always happy.”
As a freshman, Hrynewich would say that she couldn’t hit a shot because her attitude wasn't good. Now, Hrynewich's attitude has allowed her to score lower by taking some risks.
“Now I have a lot more shots in my bag and I have a better attitude out there, more positive," Hrynewich said.
Having a positive attitude helps her succeed on and off the course, as well as impact the performance of her teammates and her overall team.
Hrynewich has stepped up as a leader this year, more so than in past years, by motivating teammates to improve and help them get better.
“When she goes to go do some extra practice on her own she's reaching out to somebody else on the team and saying, 'c'mon you should come too,' which is always something you want to see from a leader on your team,” coach Kelly Ovington said.
Ovington said that Hrynewich didn't have to become a leader and just continued doing her own thing, but has seen the effect she can have on the underclassmen.
“When they hear her talk, they listen because she's had some success so I think she's realizing that her voice and what she does can make an impact on them," Ovington said.
The Power of Twins
Hrynewich’s twin brother, Reed, is also a college level golfer and has been the most important person in her golf game.
Reed golfs for the University of Michigan and is Hailey's swing coach. After all, he's seen her swing more than anyone else.
They spent countless hours together when growing up on the golf course and driving range, so they know each other’s swings better than anyone. Hailey sends Reed clips of her swing and the two are always talking about golf, especially Reed, as they both agree that he is a "golf nerd."
Twins are always competing against each other and, even though they are in different states, they keep tabs on how the other is doing. The pattern of one placing high and then the other has been constant while they are at college.
Reed competed at the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate on March 4-5 with his team and finished second as an individual. Hailey’s next tournament was March 9-10 at the River Landing Classic where she finished tied for second.
With each of their respective conference tournaments coming up and Hailey and Reed seemingly consistently matching score, it will be up to Hailey to set the standard as she will play her tournament first.
The conference tournaments are not the end of either of their careers as they both will be competing professionally albeit on different sides of the country.
The end of Ohio’s season is not the end of Hailey Hrynewich's career. She will go to Florida to compete professionally at the end of the year.
The National Women’s Golf Association Tour will be where Hrynewich will begin her professional career. The average score to win a 54-hole tournament is 71 strokes per round.
Hrynewich is averaging 73.7 strokes per round and has made a 1.5 stroke improvement from last year, which could signal good things if more improvement is shown.
The Qualifying School would be what Hrynewich needs to pass to qualify for the bigger tours, however, where there are three different stages that need to be passed. If she makes it through all three stages, she will make the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Aside from golf, however, at the bottom of her arsenal is her ability to broadcast.
“I think with how she’s grown outside golf it will help her in the future no matter what happens with golf,” Reed said.
Wherever Hailey Hrynewich goes in her future, there is one thing for certain — she has left her mark on the Ohio woman’s golf program and its record book.
“Her determination on the course and fiery commitment, she's a competitor, you put anything in front of her and she wants to beat it," Ovington said.