March 5, 2002
BERKELEY - Life at Cal has not been what Anne Walker expected it to be.
By all accounts, it has been better.
Walker is the only senior on Cal's 17th-ranked women's golf team. When she arrived on campus in January of 1998 from Lanarkshire, Scotland, the Golden Bears were in their third year as a varsity sport and had not arrived on the national scene yet.
"I thought it would be like my university at home," said Walker. "School with a little bit of golf when you could fit it in. Cal turned out to be very structured. We work out hard and are in very good shape.
"I never could have predicted that you could be part of a team and get so much out of it and enjoy it so much."
Walker has much to enjoy and show for her time at Cal.
A member of the Scottish national team, Walker already turned in impressive numbers in her first three years and helped lead Cal to a 19th-place finish in its first appearance at the NCAA Championships in 2001. She also has held or still holds every major record at Cal.
"Anne turned around the program," said Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel. "She was not afraid to set the standard at a higher level. She believed in the potential of the program and has helped get us where we are today."
After firing a team-best 74.3 stroke average in the fall, Walker opened the spring season by leading Cal to the Bay Area Classic title by claiming medalist honors. She carded a school record 36-hole 141 to win by six strokes over three of her teammates.
Walker also won the 1998 BYU Invitational as a freshman, which was the first major tournament win for a Cal women's golfer.
Prior to attending school in Berkeley, the geography major's only other visits to the United States were two trips to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Back in her hometown, the culture isn't as diverse as Berkeley. Unless, you count the animals.
"I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere," said Walker. "We have fields all around us. Cows lick our windows. Our nearest neighbors are a few fields over."
Walker found her way to Berkeley by chance. She was planning on attending a university in Scotland, but someone asked Walker to call McDaniel, who was going to be visiting Scotland.
"(McDaniel) watched me play," said Walker. "I happened to play the round of my life and made a decision within a week (to attend Cal), and here I am."
After attracting Walker to Cal, many elite golfers have followed, including junior Vikki Laing, one of Walker's Scottish national team teammates. In addition to Walker and Laing, the Bears also feature junior Ria Quiazon and sophomore Sarah Huarte from last year's NCAA team. This spring, sophomore Claire Dury, a product of New Zealand's national team, joined the Bears.
Could this be the lineup of a national championship team?
"We have all the right ingredients (to win a national championship)," said Walker. "We have four returners, who all went to nationals last year, which was an incredible experience. We're all working hard. We all want it."
Walker doesn't have any plans for after graduation because she would rather concentrate on the present.
After all, life at Cal is quite enjoyable.