SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – When Ashley Menne walked off the 18th green Sunday at Grayhawk Golf Club, Arizona State senior Olivia Mehaffey wrapped her arms around the Sun Devils freshman, lifted her into the air and twirled her around. Anything to make the normally low-key teenager smile.
Menne had just fired a blistering 7-under 65 in the third round of the NCAA Women’s Championship, not only setting her career-best round but also tying a program record at nationals (Grace Park did it twice in 1998). And her performance helped the Sun Devils shoot 2 under and rocket to sixth on the team leaderboard.
“Ashley has so much potential and she showed a glimpse of what she is capable of today,” Arizona State head coach Missy Farr-Kaye said. “Really proud of her performance. She didn’t get too high or too low, just remained steady and gave us a huge boost.”
“Everything was going in,” added Menne, who boosted her typically strong putting by adjusting her grip back along the lifeline of her hand. After opening with a tap-in birdie at the difficult 10th hole, she expanded her range, later adding a couple of birdie putts from outside of 30 feet.
Menne, whose previous best score at Grayhawk was even par, may have been red-hot Sunday, but Farr-Kaye described the newcomer from nearby Surprise as “a little green” when she first stepped on campus.
When Menne arrived in Tempe, Farr-Kaye told her doe-eyed freshman, “You’ve got a little catching up to do.” Unlike her many international teammates, Menne wasn’t privy to everything that goes into being an elite college player. She didn’t really work out or know how to effectively practice. She also had little idea of how to measure her success, once thinking that hitting 15 greens in a round was below average.
“I told her that sometimes patience might seem trite, but there’s a reason,” Farr-Kaye said. “You have to go through the process.”
Farr-Kaye expressed that the fall, during which Arizona State couldn’t compete because of the pandemic, allowed Menne to get into a rhythm as a college athlete. She also got considerably longer, adding at least 20 years off the tee, and thrived under the influence of All-Americans Mehaffey and Linn Grant.
“I’ve learned a lot just by hanging out and practicing with them,” Menne said of Mehaffey and Grant. “Drills, practice ideas, small things that just add up, and it really makes a difference.”
The one they call “Mighty Mouse” then hit the ground running in the spring, finishing eighth in her college debut before rattling off five top-20s in six starts, including a T-17 at NCAA regionals. Now, she’s tied for third individual at the NCAA Championship, seven back of another freshman, Stanford’s Rachel Heck, who sits at 10 under with one round to play.
Menne might not have five individual wins like Heck, but Farr-Kaye sees massive potential in her first-year player.
“She’s a little bit of a sleeping giant,” Farr-Kaye said.
And Menne may have just woken up.