Golfers find their strokes

If you browse the University of Miami’s history of success in sports, it’s crystal clear that the university is one of the most successful programs in the country.

However, nestled slightly under all of the fame, heavy trophies and memorable nights against rival sports teams, there is a Hurricane hidden athletic treasure.

The women’s golf team, coached by Lela Cannon, is not only one of the most dedicated teams at the U – it’s undoubtedly a team that’s showing promise every season.

Cannon, a two-time Southeastern Region Coach of the Year (1984, 1992), led the Canes to an NCAA national championship title in 1984 and is currently an inductee in the National Golf Association Hall of Fame.

During the 2008-2009 season, the girls traveled to North and South Carolina, Georgia and California to compete in tournaments held by other schools. Additionally, UM hosted two golf tournaments – the Qdoba and the Canes & Cardinal tournaments, where 15 and 12 teams participated, respectively.

“We practice six days a week for about 20 hours,” she said. “That includes both workout time and actual practicing at one of three golf courses.”

Despite her illustrious career, one of Cannon’s most memorable moments as a coach came when the team finished tied for first place, ahead of 42 others, in the Edwin Watts Tournament back in February in Kiawah, S.C., hosted by the College of Charleston.

“It was a great experience. I think it shows how much talent and capability our team has,” junior Maria Ronderos said. “It really showed us how we can all work together and obtain great results.”

Ronderos was the Colombian golf national champion. In the United States, she finished 10th as a junior and 11th as a senior in high school. This past season she collected three top-10 finishes, including 10th place at the Ryder Canes & Cardinal Classic. She also earned 24th at the ACC Championship.

“Honestly words cannot even describe the excitement and enthusiasm that was seen that day in Kiawah. My team and I smiled all the way back home and enjoyed every moment of the tournament,” junior Christina Hirano said.

Hirano, who helped lead her golf team to an undefeated season in high school, currently plays for Miami with her younger sister, Jennifer. The older sibling ended her season with three top-15 finishes.

“It was a fun and a great experience playing with Jenn,” she said. “Throughout our season we encouraged each other as well as pushed each other to step up our game. With her there I felt like she helped keep me on my toes.”

Jennifer Hirano played in the U.S. Women’s Amateur over the last two years and placed third in the 2007 Dixie Amateur. In her first year at UM, she finished sixth at the Ryder Canes & Carnival Classic and tied for 25th at ACCs.

This season, the Hurricanes landed in eighth place at the ACC Championship at the Sedgeboro Country Club in North Carolina.

“I think we definitely have higher expectations for ourselves for the rest of our college years,” Christina Hirano said. “We now know what we are capable of and I hope that the confidence level that was shown in everybody’s game last spring will show even more this coming fall.”

For women interested in joining the team, Cannon encourages incoming students to come and try out. If a student-athlete can break 80, they may be considered for a walk-on position. Students should contact her at if interested.