Adela Cernousek almost left Texas A&M before her career started. Now she’s an NCAA individual champion

CARLSBAD, Calif. — When Adela Cernousek signed with Texas A&M, she did so under the pretense that Andrea Gaston would be her head coach.

By the time she got to College Station, Gaston, a three-time winner of the national championship was gone, off to her next adventure. Gerrod Chadwell, who had plenty of success at Houston, was hired as successor an hour north. Yet Chadwell knew right away something was off.

“I remember picking her up at the airport, and I didn’t know if she really wanted to be there,” Chadwell said.

The duo had their moments during Cernousek’s freshman year. They butted heads, but Chadwell stayed consistent. Her saw promise in his freshman from France, who showed up with only 13 clubs in her bags that were comprised of mainly beginner clubs.

Chadwell pushed her to be better. Cernousek put in the work, on the range, course and in the gym, to see results.

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It all came to fruition Monday.

Cernousek captured the 2024 NCAA Women’s Golf Championship individual title at Omni La Costa’s North Course, shooting 12-under 276 to win by three shots over Florida State’s Lottie Woad. Cernousek is the first NCAA individual medalist from Texas A&M, and she helped the Aggies earn the third seed heading into Tuesday’s match play quarterfinals.

“It’s hard to believe. It’s crazy,” Cernousek said. “I don’t think I was breathing at all during the whole day today. Yeah, I’m just like, yeah, don’t believe it. It’s crazy.”

Stanford is the No. 1 seed for the fourth straight year, with LSU earning the second seed in its first time making match play in school history.

Cernousek’s round of even-par on Monday helped her clinch the first victory of her college career. Last week, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at a 36-hole qualifier where she had to sleep on an 18-hole lead because of weather delays, and now she also earned a spot in the field next week via her victory at Omni La Costa.

She also earned an LPGA exemption into the Dana Open.

“She puts the team first, and that’s all you can ask for,” Texas A&M coach Gerrod Chadwell said. “And then just her humbleness and work ethic. It’s crazy to think that her first (win) would be at this stage.

“I wish I had five of her.”

Chadwell noted it took time for he and Cernousek to gel, saying they butted heads a few times. Early on, Chadwell felt as if Cernousek didn’t want to be there.

She never wavered. Texas A&M was where she wanted to be, and now she’s the Aggies’ first individual champion.

“All the support I have back home by my teammates, the coaches. And yeah, the work I put in every day,” Cernousek said about her motivations.

Cernousek, from France, was on the phone with her parents shortly after finishing her round. With a nine-hour time difference, they were up at 3 a.m. back home watching their daughter achieve the greatest achievement of her life.

Chadwell calls Cernousek “fish,” a name he gives to freshman but that has stuck with Cernousek since she was his first player after taking the job.

Now, Cernousek is going to have a different nickname: NCAA champion.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek