By Michael Haag | Sports Writer
Baylor women’s golf has a new freshman in the program. Freshman Antonia Matte wasted no time letting everyone know about her ability when she tied for fourth individually at the Cougar Classic. Even with the early success, being 4,808 miles away from her hometown of Santiago, Chile, life has been far from easy. However, Matte said she doesn’t feel like Texas is much different from Chile. The hardest thing for her has been adjusting to the language barrier.
“It really has not been so different because Chile and Texas, they are pretty similar,” Matte said. “The most challenging thing has to be language because I speak Spanish and here you speak English. That’s been the most challenging, but in general, I am good.”
Head coach Jay Goble said that even though Matte is a freshman, her experience being from Chile plays a role in her ability to succeed.
“I think that Antonia is very experienced. She’s played in golf tournaments around the world,” Goble said. “It’s not a big deal for her to hop on a plane for 10 hours and fly to another country and play a golf tournament, play well, fly home, play at another tournament and [also] play well, which shows you how much experience matters and how much the background of somebody who’s played that many events and played on that competitive of a level for so long can come and do.”
Matte was a big-time recruit out of Chile, but Baylor stood out to her among other schools. Baylor’s priority on academics for student-athletes specifically, and the facilities, made her happy to commit.
“Between my options, Baylor wins,” Matte said. “Here, they care a lot about being a student-athlete, and they give you a lot of facilities – the practice facilities are really good. Also, my coaches and teammates, I really like them.”
Goble loves the relief of having Matte in the lineup, as she takes a lot of pressure off of the rest of the team in tournaments.
“Knowing that they have such a great player like Antonia, who’s going to go out there and give 100% and grind out a good score – I would say it’s confidence boosting for the rest of the team,” Goble said. “They know that they have that person playing hard for them and playing hard for the team. It gives the rest of our team the freedom to concentrate on their game.”
Goble also believes that Matte is “pretty far beyond her years” in her approach and performance on the golf course.
“I would say that the really cool thing about her is she looks like a little professional out there,” Goble said. “Her mannerisms, the way she walks, the way she carries herself, the way she played her practice round is maybe even beyond her years. She looks like somebody who’s preparing to win a tour event and it shows.”
Matte said she wasn’t nervous at all for her debut collegiate tournament. She told herself to treat it like any other tournament she has played in, and to enjoy it.
“When I went there, I was really trying to enjoy it. It was my first college tournament so I really wanted to enjoy it and don’t have so much pressure on me and it worked good,” Matte said. “I said to me, ‘it’s one more tournament, so go out and enjoy [it]’ and I wasn’t really that nervous.”
Matte is added to a list of other young golfers on this team that have performed well. After the team’s performance at the Cougar Classic, Baylor is ranked second overall in the country. Goble said he is excited for the future of such a young team, as he knows the future is bright.
“I think the future is going to be great and we’re trying to continue to build a great team and we’re going to be doing that around the current players that are already here,” Goble said. “They’ve set a high standard, which I think is great. It’s only going to accentuate the players that we get and the tournaments that we play in and how we perform in the future. I’m excited; the young group we have is great.”
Matte is just beginning her journey at Baylor, with a promising start already underway. Goble says that he is excited to have her on the team in the lineup and expects a great career to come.
“I think that she’s going to have a great career here and we’re going to do a lot of great things with her in the lineup,” Goble said. “[I’m] excited for what the future brings.”