The Anchor – Stanford University Athletics

ALINE KRAUTER was promised a puppy.

Actually, “promise” is a little strong. There was some ambiguity involved. And there is the question about logistics, what with Krauter being at Stanford, halfway around the world from the hypothetical puppy.

But the way Krauter understands it, a dog is on the way.

“My parents sometimes have funny bets with me… If you do this, then this is going to happen,” said Krauter, a senior international relations major and Cardinal golfer. “Like, if I’m top 50 in the world, we’re going to get a dog.”

It’s been nearly two years since Aline cracked the top 50 in the world amateur rankings – she’s actually up to No. 24 – and still no puppy. The clock is ticking, Mr. and Mrs. Krauter.

As cute as the puppy potentially may be, the bigger point is the emergence of Krauter. A native of Germany, Krauter arrived as a recruited walk-on. But not only has she been a fixture in the lineup since her first tournament, she’s become indispensable for her performance and leadership di lei. The Cardinal, the top-ranked team in the country, may not be in the position to contend for an NCAA championship without her di lei. And that’s not an exaggeration for her role di lei in keeping the ship on course as it prepares for nationals in Scottsdale, Arizona, beginning Friday.

Aline Krauter

Photo by Cody Glenn / ISIphotos.com.

Freshman Rose Zhang and sophomore Rachel Heck are ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the world, respectively, but it’s not a stretch to say that it’s Krauter who keeps the Cardinal golf machine humming.

“As a coach, I’ve leaned on Aline,” said Anne Walker, Stanford’s Margot and Mitch Milias Director of Women’s Golf. “If I turn to Aline and say, ‘Would you be able to speak on this?’ She’s always ready to share her thoughts of lei for the benefit of the entire group. Clear and concise, and always on point. ”

During the NCAA regionals last week, Walker tapped into Krauter again and again.

“Part of the reason is, it’s hitting me how quickly we’re going to lose this wealth of knowledge and this rock in our program,” Walker said. “I want to utilize her as best we can coming down the stretch.”

In the team huddle before the first round, Krauter sensed the pressure of expectations to advance to nationals, especially at Stanford Golf Course.

“No matter what happens out there, enjoy yourself and take in every second of this immense support system we have at Stanford,” Krauter told her teammates. “There are only so many times we get to play at home in front of a crowd. Cherish it, because it goes by faster than you want it to.”

I know true.

Krauter and Calista Reyes are the only seniors on a team that’s extremely talented, but also very young. Teammates call Aline, “Grandma.”
 

* * *

Aline Krauter

Photo by Karen Hickey / ISIphotos.com.

“GRANDMA” GREW UP in Esslingen, a town in southwestern Germany with roots going back more than 3,000 years.

Aline and older brother Tim attended the International School of Stuttgart, an English immersion school with a multi-cultural environment. She speaks English without a trace of an accent.

“I like to tell people that I lost my accent at the border,” she said. “But I never really had one, so …”

Aline first played golf at age 6. Actually, that’s not quite right. She did cartwheels and played soccer – just about anything other than golf – when she accompanied Tim to the driving range.

“I didn’t have the patience for it, to be honest,” Aline said.

Slowly, that began to change.

“She saw how passionate I was about golf and started playing more herself,” Tim wrote in an e-mail. “The key was that lei she wasn’t taking golf too seriously and she was focused on having fun.”

Without Tim, Aline may never have found the sport. She describes him as her mentor di lei in the game, and they remain best friends.

“To this day, he’s still the person who creates that drive in me,” she said.

Tim, who attended Cal-Berkeley, lives in London now, but thinks nothing of flying across the Atlantic to caddy for Aline at amateur and pro tournaments.

At age 12, Krauter played in her first major area tournament. By 15, she was ready to devote herself to the game, moving to Florida to attend Saddlebrook, a Florida prep school for golfers and tennis players.

“The decision was entirely Aline’s, my parents didn’t try to push my sister one way or another,” Tim wrote. “Moving to Florida at age 15 comes with a lot of challenges and sacrifices. But pushing through helped her mature and grow as a person and helped her develop her game. It’s the reason why she ultimately ended up at Stanford and has been able to thrive . ”

Whether through club, regional, or German youth national teams, Krauter gained experience in the type of golf suited for Stanford – representing a team rather individual, and becoming familiar with the mental challenges of match play, the format used in the late rounds of the NCAA Championships.

At Krauter’s request, Saddlebrook’s coach reached out to Walker, who watched Aline play at the 2017 Ladies British Amateur. The biggest impression Krauter made was not her performance di lei (she didn’t advance past the final 64), but rather her maturity di lei.

“I remember the very first hole I watched her, it was her demeanor that struck me,” Walker said. “She struggled, but she maintained this incredible posture. Her chin di lei was up. She walked to the next tee. There was no drama, there was no flailing.

“Typically, what we see in junior golf, especially when a coach is watching, they’ll crank up their over-emotional response to whatever the outcome was, because they think, I guess, that makes the coach want them more. Aline didn ‘t do that. That’s what really got my attention. She responded with incredible poise.

“She picked her golf ball out of the hole. She walked to get her bag. She walked to the next tee and just kept on going like it never happened.”

At Stanford, Krauter was determined not to let her “walk-on” status label her. She forced her way into the lineup at the season-opening Annika Intercollegiate and finished as the No. 3 player. She’s been in the lineup ever since.
 

* * *

Photo by Bob Drebin / ISIphotos.com.

KRAUTER IS THE team metronome, placing high on the leaderboard every time while exceptional teammates over the years like Andrea Lee, Albane Valenzuela, Zhang or Heck, usually receive the headlines with even higher finishes.

Krauter’s strength is her consistency from tee to green, averaging 16 greens a round. Sometimes, she’ll hit all 18. And she’s almost always in the middle of the fairway, putting herself in favorable situations.

Krauter’s season scoring average is 72.07. Her career average of hers is 72.58. In 27 rounds this season, Krauter never has shot over 77.

“She showed up wanting to make the most of her time here with a very clear goal in mind, which was to be the very best she could be over the course of four years,” Walker said. “She just put her head down and really focused on each day.”

Such was the case in her biggest victory, the 2020 Women’s Amateur Championship, a tournament that, along with the US Women’s Amateur, is considered the highest honor in women’s amateur golf.

In the match-play final at Liverpool’s West Lancashire Golf Club against Annabell Fuller, an Englishwoman now at University of Florida, Krauter was three down after the first four holes.

“My opponent thought she already had me,” Krauter said. “But I would never give up.”

Indeed, Krauter won six of the next eight holes, only for Fuller to mount a comeback of her own as the title came down to the end.

On the par-3 17th, Krauter shot into a bunker. She recalled that her ball di lei was farther from the hole than Fuller’s and Krauter should have taken the next shot. But Fuller, not realizing the ball distances, shot out of turn, Krauter said.

“I was definitely farther away,” Krauter said. “There was a rules official next to me and I said, ‘I think she’s about to hit, but it’s not her turn of hers.’ And she hit it really close. “

Krauter could have asked the official to nullify Fuller’s shot, but didn’t, feeling the tournament should be won on merit and not a technicality. Fuller won the hole.

“I could have lost because of that, because I didn’t call her out on it,” Krauter said. “Looking back, if I would have lost, I probably would’ve regretted it. But that’s not really who I am. That doesn’t represent me at all.”

Instead, Krauter kept quiet and two-putted No. 18 to earn a dramatic victory. As a reward, she gained exemptions into all the LPGA majors for the following year, as well as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.

Aline Krauter

Photo by John Todd / ISIphotos.com.

Aline believes the majors were life-changing, because her brush with the world’s best players – including Germany’s Caroline Masson, who offered encouragement, advice, and practice round companionship – and top tournaments confirmed Krauter’s desire for a pro playing career.

At each stop, Tim accompanied Aline, carrying her bag and seeking advice of his own from caddies of LPGA’s top players.

Aline bypassed the Augusta National Women’s Amateur to play in the ANA Inspiration, her first pro tournament (as an amateur), with the hope of an invitation to Augusta National the following year and was rewarded for her patience.

Krauter didn’t play well on the front nine, overcompensating for the course’s difficulties. But Krauter rallied (a pattern?) And birdied the final three holes.

When it was over, Tim and Aline embraced. Tim said he was proud of her. They began to cry.

“So many emotions,” she said. “My heart was beating out of my chest. There were so many people watching on 18. They were clapping for my birdie and I couldn’t handle it. I was laughing and crying. I didn’t know what was going on.”
 

* * *

Krauter

Photo by Bob Drebin / ISIphotos.com.

THIS SEASON HAS been a rollercoaster for Stanford – with injuries and the absence of Heck for much of the spring for medical reasons. But the ups and downs have not greatly affected Stanford’s play. The Cardinal, as young as it is, remains No. 1 and Krauter has been vital in keeping the team in one piece.

“I feel like I’ve flown under the radar completely. People probably still don’t know me. But I never wanted that spotlight necessarily. I don’t really need that. I like to go about my business in silence. I like to work hard behind the scenes, and then I come up and surprise people. “

The regional turned out fine after all. Stanford shot 7-under and tied for second, advancing to the NCAA Championships for the 12th consecutive season. But the soundtrack to the tournament was Krauter and her di lei soothing words di lei to her teammates, the words that alleviated just a little of the anxiety di lei.

“I really tried to emphasize how well we were doing and how proud we can be of each other for showing up when needed,” Krauter said. “I mainly tried to project a feeling of ease and security onto the girls to make sure they weren’t putting too much pressure on themselves or worrying about external factors.”

Krauter’s main message: “Just have fun.”

And they will continue to seek fun while simultaneously knocking some heads. It’s not about cartwheels anymore, it’s about being great when you can be, and being OK if you’re not. It’s about winning championships, yes, but also about camaraderie and teamwork.

And, of course, a puppy.

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