Sophomore Momoka Ando makes strides for Southern Miss Golf


In just her second year at Southern Miss, Japan native Momoka Ando has risen as one of the top golfers for the rising women’s golf program.

Ando became just the fourth golfer in program history to be named to an All-Tournament team after finishing third in the Sun Belt Championships and leading the team to a fifth-place finish.

After starting the final day of the tournament in fifth place individually, Ando climbed the leaderboard with a one-under 71 to third place.

“Mo was so steady from the minute she stepped on the tournament site, and I’m so grateful for who she is and how she represents us and Southern Miss. Despite our struggles, there was so much good that came out of this season and the bar has been set moving forward,” Head Coach Lucy Nunn Burke said.

Ando is still adjusting to life in the United States nearly 7,000 miles away from her hometown in Japan, but has found her new home in Hattiesburg and made steady improvements in just her second season. Ando said much of the adjustment within the sport was focusing on the mental aspect of the game.

“Last year, I was more of a negative person, but this semester, my assistant coach offered a lot of mental support, so I played with a lot of confidence this year,” Ando said. “That’s what felt different.”

And Ando said she has been able to develop her skills at a place where she feels comfortable and is encouraged to do so. She said out of all the meetings with other schools, Southern Miss stuck out to her in her conversations with Burke.

“The reason I came to Southern Miss is definitely because of Coach [Burke]. She’s so different from Japanese people,” Ando said. “I had meetings with other schools, but I felt that Coach Lucy was the right fit for me and I could tell that the atmosphere she created during practice was going to make me and anyone who joined Southern Miss a better player.”

Ando also said that while she has had to adjust to the cultural differences between Japan and Mississippi, she has enjoyed the experience, which has made the transition easier.