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TOSCANO BRINGS WORLDLY EXPERIENCE TO FINAL SEASON By Carson Herbert

In her four years as a member of the South Dakota State women’s golf team, Teresa Toscano has developed an impressive golf résumé through record-breaking performances and experiences.

Toscano has shattered several SDSU program records, including

  • A 73.57 career stroke average
  • 20 career top-five finishes
  • Six individual wins
  • The lowest 54-hole score (212), 36-hole score (131) and 18-hole score (64)

A two-time All-Summit League First Team member who currently has a Golf Stat rank of 29, Toscano stayed busy last summer with opportunities to go head-to-head against the best female golfers around the globe.

Alongside fellow Jackrabbit Mia Seeman, Toscano participated in the Women's Western Amateur in Frankfort, Ill. July 20-25. Toscano recorded a score of 160 in two rounds of stroke play.

The Huelva, Spain, native capped off her summer earning an exemption into the 120th U.S. Women's Amateur Aug. 3-9 in Rockville, Maryland. The event plays host to top amateur and collegiate golfers in the world. Toscano completed a historic run where she reached the round of 16 match play.

In what she describes as “living a dream,” Toscano raved about the opportunity.

“It was one of the best golf experiences I have had so far. It was simply amazing to be part of," she said. "The competitiveness was huge and the USGA did a great job keeping everyone safe and as comfortable as possible. They treat you as pro golfers and the services they gave to the people in the championship are astounding.”

Assistant coach Maggie Murphy, who was in attendance with Toscano, said the experience will not be forgotten anytime soon.

“As her caddy, I had a front row seat to her run to the round of 16,” Murphy said. “She hit clutch shots and beat some of the top players in college golf. She proved she can play with the best and I look forward to watching all she will accomplish in the future!”

In all of her success, Toscano’s journey to Brookings was far from easy. As she reached out to universities in the United States, Toscano had a lack of opportunities due to limited tournament exposure and a low Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score.

Her determination to play collegiate golf in the U.S. paid off when she was offered a scholarship by SDSU Director of Golf Casey VanDamme three weeks before the fall semester started at SDSU. She signed with the Jackrabbits a week before coming to the U.S., and the rest is history.

VanDamme felt for Toscano in her struggles adapting to life in Brookings.

“Less than two months after first meeting her, Teresa and her parents arrived on campus. She came with only a small duffle bag and her golf clubs,” VanDamme said. “She knew no one and laughed when people spoke with her, as she did not always understand what they were saying. Everyone at SDSU was extremely helpful in her becoming acclimated and comfortable. I cannot imagine how difficult her first year was in Brookings.”

In what was once a place where Toscano felt as an outsider just five years ago, SDSU and the golf program have become a second family to her.

“Sharing moments with the team is such a great experience,” Toscano said. “I get to know people from all over the world and learn from them. I have also seen the SDSU golf program grow since the first day I got here. I am really proud of the work the team and coaches are doing to keep getting better as a program. I am really happy to be part of that.”

There is no question that Toscano has made an impact on the Jackrabbit golf program over the past four years as she has been a part of nine team wins, but her journey isn’t complete just yet. She will get the chance to compete as a Jackrabbit in one final season thanks to the NCAA granting spring sport athletes an additional year of eligibility after spring sport seasons were cut short in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This season, Toscano gets the opportunity to add to her resume and has her sights set on a big goal.

“I felt like something was missing, that I couldn’t finish my college career like that,” Toscano said in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. “By accepting the additional year of eligibility, I get to enjoy another year as a Jackrabbit and another chance to play tournaments. It would mean the world to me to play in the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship.”

VanDamme has confidence in Toscano for the remainder of her collegiate career and beyond.

“As a golfer, Teresa has gone from unranked to one of the best amateur golfers in the world,” he said. “Each semester she has improved her game. She is a great athlete, and the sky is the limit for her. We look forward to watching her finish off her senior year and I believe she can play golf for a living.”

Toscano opened her final season Feb. 19-21 at the Reynolds Lake Oconee Collegiate where she finished tied for second in a field of 88 players. The senior went on to win back-to-back events. She captured the Jackrabbit Invitational title March 8-9, before turning around and winning the Pizza Hut Lady Thunderbird Invitational days later while breaking SDSU's 18- and 36-hole scores.