It’s the No. 4 national ranking of Cal State University San Marcos’ women’s golf team which is noteworthy.
For the first time since CSUSM elevated to the heights of Division II status, a Cougars squad resides among its sport’s top five.
What doesn’t warrant a breaking news alert is this nugget: Jaime Jacob is driven.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist,” said Jacob, CSUSM’s ace golfer. “I’m just very competitive.’’
Any golfer knows some swings are tougher to digest than others. So when Jacob flew her approach shot on No. 17 at Shadow Ridge Country Club recently in the Fujikura Invitational after taking the lead with consecutive birdies, her pitch came with a punch.
“I couldn’t sleep that night,’’ Jacob said.
When the sun rose, Jacob followed suit. She grabbed her usually trusty 56-degree wedge, some balls and returned to that dastardly spot 65 yards shy of the pin.
Her do-over was done well, but it didn’t erase the sting of tying for third instead of being the medalist.
“That was the first time that I had let the adrenalin take over,” said Jacob, who’s ranked No. 6 in individual play. “Usually if I’m too amped up I can feel it, I can back off and I’m very comfortable with it.’’
Those woes at No. 17 notwithstanding, Jacob is cozy atop the leader board.
Jacob was recently named the California Collegiate Athletic Association player of the week, the third time this season she’s had a share of the award. Her performances are among the reasons the Cougars have won five of their seven events.
Jacob, a junior from La Costa Canyon High, also doesn’t mind dividing the success that has found the Cougars. The Fujikura Invitational, which included the country’s top teams, was CSUSM’s coming-out party. The Cougars finished within one shot of No. 1 Dallas Baptist in third place and saw their ranking zoom from No. 16 to No. 4.
“Going against the top teams in the nation we did well and that’s because we have a great team,’’ Jacob said. “We have seven players who can score in the top five at any tournament.’’
Three of them have won tournaments. Seniors Sarah Garcia and Bergen Benedict, plus freshman Breann Horn, have found the winner’s circle.
Garcia isn’t very long off the tee but is lethal with her short game and putting.
“It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t hit it very far because she always pulls it off around the greens,” Jacob said. “She’s feisty.”
Benedict is consistent with her smooth, ball-striking ability. Horn, in her first year, is proving the present and future of CSUSM women’s golf resembles a smooth patch of the fairway.
“It always seems like we have someone up near the top,’’ Jacob said.
Jacob shines in the classroom where big numbers are good. Her GPA is north of 4.0 and she is far from short on ambition.
She’ll contribute to society thanks to her studies in global business management. But there’s also the question of going pro and what better way to travel the world as a professional athlete.
“I don’t think there is anything standing in her way to be as good as she wants to be,” said Jennifer Johnson, an assistant coach and former touring pro.
First she’ll take care of the business at hand — getting a CSUSM degree — and then will tackle qualifying for the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 2020.
“It was just too much to do it this fall with my studies,’’ she said.
Alana Uriell suggested as much when Jacob asked for advice. Uriell, from Carlsbad, is in this week’s LPGA’s Kia Classic at the Aviara Golf Club. Uriell is playing in her second LPGA event following a win at the tour’s developmental level after playing at Arkansas.
“She said it was best to get her school out of the way,” Jacob said.
The Cougars’ season is just getting good, with the CCAA championship at Morgan Run Club and Resort, April 15 to April 17. It’s the first step of a postseason in which the Cougars hope to advance to the Div. II championship at Florida in June.
It could be an early summer to remember for CSUSM as the Cougars, with Jacob in the lead, have the DNA for a special season.
Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him @jparis_sports