Unflappable Maryland golfer goes on birdie spree after push cart rolls into lake during college event

·3 min read

The par-3 second hole on the Dye Course at the Country Club of Landfall is surrounded by water on three sides. Maryland’s Karla Elena Vázquez Setzer knocked her tee shot to 10 feet in winds that were gusting over 35 mph, yet still managed to find the hazard.

As Vázquez Setzer putted out for par during Round 1 of the Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, North Carolina, her push cart – parked on a flat surface roughly 25 yards from the water – went barreling toward Dye Lake.

By the time Vázquez Setzer made it to her golf bag, it was fully submerged. Thankfully, quick-thinking volunteers grabbed rakes from a nearby bunker and held onto the wheels to keep the cart from fully sinking.

Head coach Kelly Hovland’s first thought was that she’d have try to fish out enough clubs for Vázquez Setzer to be able to carry on. The freshman was, after all, putting together one of the Terps’ best rounds.

When they managed to wrestle the bag out of the lake, incredibly, only one club – a 9-iron –was missing, along with Vázquez Setzer’s cell phone. Her range finder, though recovered, was another casualty.

Hovland said she was blown away by how quickly Vázquez Setzer adjusted to the debacle, noting that as they wiped down her clubs, the 20-year-old said she’d be fine without a 9-iron and could replace her phone.

“She’s an international kid,” said Hovland, “that phone is a big connection to her family and social life.”

Vázquez Setzer walked over to the next tee ­– a slight dogleg left that offers plenty of trouble – and ripped her drive. After that Hovland, who’d gone back to the tee on the second hole to help the next player, felt good about Vázquez Setzer’s head space.

Of course, Vázquez Setzer’s approach into the par-4 third hole would require a 9-iron. She instead choked down on an 8-iron and made birdie, the first of three birdies over the next five holes. Vázquez Setzer, who started on No. 10, finished with an even-par 72.

Maryland’s Karla Elena Vázquez Setzer (courtesy photo)

And while she played the rest of the tournament with 13 clubs, plenty of Landfall members offered to bring in their own 9-irons. The club happens to have work scheduled on the Dye Lake this week, and they’ve insisted on having a scuba diver look for Vázquez Setzer’s club.

“One of the tenets of my coaching philosophy is mental and emotional resilience,” said Hovland. “That’s something I talk about all day long.”

Every year, the Terps pick their own motto for the season. Hovland was both pleased and surprised when her team came up with “Own the Response.” It’s posted in the locker room and stitched on team backpacks.

Last week, Vázquez Setzer brought that motto to life.

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