For three seasons now, the McQueen girls golf team has been one of those teams needing to report its results with first initials included.
Just saying “Duan did this” isn’t good enough. There’s two of them, sisters separated by one year, and they’re both often at or near the top of the results in league, regional and state competition.
Senior Michelle Duan and junior Alice Duan are two of the big reasons why McQueen has consistently been one of the region’s better girls golf teams over the past few seasons and is a challenger again this season to two-time defending state champion Spanish Springs.
The Cougars and Lancers are at it again this season, finishing 1-2 in both of the High Desert League tournaments held so far. At Tuesday’s event at Sierra Sage, Spanish Springs took a narrow seven-stroke win (323 to 330), with Alice Duan tying defending state champion Katrina Prendergast for the top score at 74.
A week earlier at Hidden Valley, the Cougars opened with a 12-stroke margin over McQueen, with Michelle Duan finishing at the top of the standings with a 72.
The teams will be seeing a lot of each other as the season leads up to the Division I North regional tournament in mid-October. Should both reach the state tournament, they’ll be on familiar ground. McQueen is the host school for that event, Oct. 20 and 21 at Somersett Golf and Country Club.
For the Lancers to return to the state event — they finished second in 2012, but fell six shots short of qualifying a year ago — the Duan sisters will need to again play near the top of the leaderboard. At the 2013 North Region tournament at Rosewood Lakes, Alice finished fifth with a two-day 160 total, with Michelle tied for sixth, one stroke back.
Here’s a look at both players, including their best rounds, their thoughts on golf and what it’s like to compete against another really good golfer who also happens to be your sister.
Best round: 72 (Hidden Valley, 2014)
Best high school round: 72 (same)
State tournament finishes: 2011 — T25th; 2012 — 7th; 2013 — T7th
Favorite golfer: Rory McIlroy
On her best golf skills: “Skills-wise, putting and my wood game.”
On her sister’s golf game: “She’s really good at chipping and the short game.”
On goals for the season: “This past year, I wanted to do no rounds in the 80s (and) keep everything in the 70s. But I didn’t attain that, because it’s golf. (In general), to get better every day and have fun with it. My view of golf is yes, get better, but don’t be so hard on yourself if you have a bad day. Take it seriously, but not to the point where you’ll burn yourself out.”
On the team’s outlook: “I want to go to state with my team.”
Without golf, what would you be doing? “I think I’d be more into choir and more into the artistic side of me. I only do that as a side project, if I have time.”
On competing with her sister: “Alice and I, even though we are really competitive … if we’re playing in the same group, we’ll definitely be cheering each other on. If she makes a long putt, I’ll get really excited myself, as if I made it. We’re competitive, but we’re really supportive of each other.”
Coach Mark Harbrecht: “She drives the ball well and her short game is very good. She’s done a lot of work these last several years to improve each facet of her game. She’s really focused on being the best that she can be, and I think that’s added to her own game, as well as added to the ability of our team to do better. It’s exciting to see her grow from her freshman year to where she’s at this year.”
Best round: 72 (Haggin Oaks, Sacramento, 2014)
Best high school round: 74 (Sierra Sage, 2014; LakeRidge, 2013)
State tournament finishes: 2012 — T12th; 2013 — T15th
Favorite golfers: Adam Scott and Tiger Woods
On her best golf skills: “My short game is probably the best part of my game, because I don’t hit it very far. And my irons.”
On her sister’s golf game: “She’s not too intense, which is good. Her putting’s pretty good and pretty consistent, and she makes a lot of long putts. I’m jealous.”
Goals for the season: “I’m trying to break par now. Now that I’ve gotten to par, it’s breaking that, because that’s another milestone.”
On the team’s outlook: “Win regionals and win state.”
Without golf, what would you be doing? “I’d probably be more invested in orchestra. I play now, but it’s just kind of a fun thing.”
On competing with her sister: “It doesn’t come up much, unless we’re arguing about something. But it’s always good to see her do well. And, of course, being on a team, you want all your teammates to have their best day, every day.”
Coach Mark Harbrecht: “She has a tendency to beat herself up a little bit, but at the same time that’s good, because it’s a driving force for her: to make that perfect shot, to be in that position where she gets on the green in regulation and makes that birdie putt. She uses that as a motivation to get to that next level. She continues to always look for ways to get better, and I think that’s really, really important.”