With spring finally here, Sara Monberg is dressing with a purpose. The Tennessee Lady Vols golfer joked about her “farmer’s tan” as if it were a hitch in her swing.
“We can’t walk around in bikinis and sports bras,” she said while sporting a tank top Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. “We can wear whatever we want, as long as it’s adidas stuff.”
The warm sunshine and seasonal temperatures allowed for some quality practice time in advance of the SEC championships in Birmingham, Ala., starting Friday. Perhaps Monberg gained some confidence, enough to shake off a lingering chill in her play. Her collegiate career — a period she described as “the best four years of my life” — is coming to a close and she wants to finish strong.
“I think it’s gotten into my head a little bit,” she said. “I want this team to succeed so bad. It’s been a lot of pressure.”
Lady Vols coach Judi Pavon empathizes with Monberg, who hasn’t finished higher than tied for 28th in four spring events. While most golfers face their share of struggles, few are as far from home as Monberg. The Denmark native is one of three international players on the team.
“I really have a lot of respect for them and have always been amazed by them, because it’s such a big change,” Pavon said. “The thing I really love about them is they come to play golf. They’ve sacrificed so much to be here. So they appreciate it and work hard at it.”
Pavon said that she feels a lot of responsibility for players like Monberg, so much so that “I give them the extra hug here and there,” Pavon said.
Monberg came to Tennessee for golf. She learned about the school from
playing on Team Europe with former UT player Nathalie Mansson during the 2007 Junior Solheim Cup. But Monberg won’t return to Denmark with the sport foremost among her ambitions. She’s applied for graduate school in economics and dental school.
“Fate is going to decide what’s going to happen,” Monberg said.
While at UT, Monberg has been a model student. She received a chancellor’s citation this week for her academic achievements.
“I’ve been in classes where some students have been very hostile toward athletes, because they don’t show up for class or are not paying attention,” she said. “For me, it’s been more about like showing the good side of the athletic department, just trying to be the best student I can be.”
She’s also been a valuable teammate, serving as an advisor and sounding board for fellow international Lady Vols Daeun Song and Mason Chen.
“She’s positive every day, that’s something our team really struggles with actually,” Pavon said. “You know, sometimes they bring their issues to practice and then you don’t have a good practice. She is always friendly. She’s always in a good mood.”
As a golfer, she’s played in every tournament of her UT career and has five top-10 finishes. All that’s left is the desired closing act.
“I think it’s coming down to just relaxing and playing the game I know I can play,” Monberg said.
That would help. An extra hug here and there wouldn’t hurt either.