Golfer’s career-best round propels Rollins to sixth national title since 2003.
Paige Lyle ’17 (Photo by Jim Hogue Photography)
Paige Lyle ’17 hadn’t made an eagle since her freshman season. But two in one round? On the biggest stage of her career? Come on.
Indeed, something magical was in the air May 19 at Denver’s CommonGround Golf Course. On second day of the NCAA Division II championships, Lyle recorded a pair of eagles by holing out from 106 yards on No. 10, then sinking a 20-foot putt on the par-5 15th. From that moment, fate just seemed to be smiling on the Rollins women’s golf team.
Photo by NCAA Photos/Jack Dempsey Riding the momentum of Lyle’s career-best 4-under 68—which tied for the tournament’s low round— the Tars went on to capture the program’s first national title since 2008.
According to coach Julie Garner, Lyle is the team’s “heart and soul,” a hard-working perfectionist who epitomizes everything it means to be a championship-caliber athlete at Rollins. Carrying a 3.73 GPA, the political science major is a three-time All-American Scholar whose steady play has contributed greatly to the team’s success.
“Paige has really developed into a strong leader,” Garner says. “She’s also gotten to this point without a whole lot of formal instruction. I like to say she’s improved her game by ‘finding it in the dirt’—working on things and feeling her way through it.”
Bio: Born in Fort Worth, Texas; moved to Orlando at age 6; attended Timber Creek High School in east Orange County; political science major; three-time All-American Scholar
2015-16 highlights: 76.33 stroke average; shot 4-under 68 in second round of NCAA Division II national championships; T-4th at Guy Harvey Invitational and UWF Argonaut Invitational; five top-10 finishes; second-team All-American
How does it feel to be a national champion? “In 2015, we were supposed to win, but finishing second really hurt. We all knew we wanted to come back this year playing the best we could. We didn’t have as great a regular season this year, but we kept the faith, stayed positive, believed in ourselves and peaked at the right time.”
Photo by Jim Hogue Photography
What can we expect for next season? “Julie Steinbauer ’17 and I will be the only returning seniors. It’s weird that all my teammates from my freshman year are gone now. But I’m also excited to welcome in the new freshman class and take them under my wing and try to guide them like the upperclassmen did for me.”
Describe your golf career so far: “Being on the golf team is my favorite part about Rollins. Our team is really close, and each year we keep getting better. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and sometimes it’s been a tough road, but I always figure out how to grind it out and never give up.”
What sets Rollins golf apart? “Definitely the role that Coach Garner plays. She’s changed my life in a real way. Just her passion, determination and support have been a great part of my experience at Rollins. I feel lucky to be part of a program that has such a storied history (13 national titles). That was one of the biggest recruiting factors Coach used with me. I knew if I came to this school, I’d have a chance of winning a championship.”
When did you start playing golf? “Seventh grade. I had played a lot of sports growing up and got tired of them. I got hooked on golf after my first lesson.”
Photo by Jim Hogue Photography
Golf: CommonGround, Denver; Traditions Club, College Station, Texas; Rehoboth Beach Country Club, Delaware.
Academics: Campaigns and Elections
Favorite professors: “Don Davison and his wife, Joan (political science). They’re very understanding and cooperative. Plus, they’re always following our golf team, and I feel so supported by them.”
How would you describe your game? “I hit the ball pretty straight and make a lot of pars.”
Favorite place to hang out: “I live in a really old, worn-down log cabin a couple blocks from campus. But I absolutely love it.”
Editor’s note: As part of our series on the women’s golf team, we’re spotlighting the five golfers—Lyle, Hally Leadbetter, Annie Dulman, Madison Lellyo, and Lexi Toth—who teamed up to win the national title. To learn more about the team’s path to the championship, read “Anatomy of a National Title”. A full-length profile on Garner will appear in the Fall 2016 issue of Rollins magazine.