Elizabeth Mallett takes US and its golf courses in stride

While every freshman at North Carolina has to deal with the typical adjustments that accompany the transition to college life, freshman women’s golf phenom Elizabeth Mallett has to deal with all that and then some.

But after coming to Chapel Hill in August for preseason practice without ever spending more than 48 hours in America, Mallett, from Sutton Coldfield, England, is fitting in just fine with her new team.

Coach Jan Mann praised the talented freshman for her hard work in assimilating into her new life.

“It’s always an adjustment,” Mann said. “Particularly coming from so far away and just getting used to the school environment and then the team.”

Prior to this fall, Mallett had never played on an American golf course.

“We don’t have grass like this (in England),” Mallett said. “We have more tightly knitted grass whereas this kind of creeps along the surface, so I kind of struggled for the first few tournaments, not going to lie.”

Mallett, who tied for 26th overall at the Liz Murphey Fall Preview in Georgia just last weekend, finished tied for 15th overall this weekend at the Ruth’s Chris Tar Heel Invitational at UNC Finley Golf Course.

With a total of 96 golfers competing in the tournament, the young freshman is catching up to — and often surpassing — her new collegiate competitors.

“One of the things you’ll notice about Elizabeth, she always gets better and better each day,” Mann said.

Mallett certainly hopes that trend continues as she adjusts to playing golf in America.

“It’s a lot different to home, but I’m starting to get used to it now,” she said.

For the near future, however, Mallett is looking forward to trying to compete on a team that she admitted she didn’t assume she’d automatically make.

“There are a lot of experienced players and really good players on this team, which is one of the reasons why I chose to come here,” she said. “Hopefully, in the next few years, I’ll be able to work on my game and move onwards and upwards.”

While Mallett hopes the adjustment will get easier over time, she’s quick to point to her relationships with her teammates and coaches as key elements in significantly easing that process.

“I miss home,” she admitted. “But the people here are really nice and everyone’s really supportive, so it makes it a lot easier.”

Her teammates, meanwhile, are enjoying having her as a part of their team.

Upperclassman Jackie Chang fondly recalls discovering that UNC had signed Mallett.

“We were so happy, and she’s really just lived up to all our expectations that we had for her,” said Chang. “She’s great, she’s really funny, and she’s obviously playing well. We love her.”

Mann has seen a lot of potential in her new player so far.

“I feel certain that Elizabeth has a very bright future as a college player,” Mann said.

And after just a couple months with the Tar Heels, her teammates and coach believe that she is on the cusp of a major breakthrough.

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