published Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Golfing siblings united at UTC

UTC golfer Benni Weilguni, right, convinced his sister, Sophie Weilguni, to come to Chattanooga to play for the UTC women's golf team. A sophomore, she transferred from a division II school in Miami.
UTC golfer Benni Weilguni, right, convinced his sister, Sophie Weilguni, to come to Chattanooga to play for the UTC women's golf team. A sophomore, she transferred from a division II school in Miami.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Sophie Weilguni grew up playing golf in Austria and came to America to play at Barry University in Florida.

She transferred to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga because she thought the move would improve her skills and her opportunities to pursue a professional career in golf.

She also transferred to be close to her brother, Benni, who plays on the men's golf team at UTC.

"Benni told me how the program is. We have the same goals, and being in the same place and sharing experiences is something nobody can take from us," Sophie said. "It's awesome to have part of your family here, because Austria is so far away. We enjoy our time together."

Homesickness has struck a few players on both UTC golf teams. There are four players on each team who grew up overseas.

Having a sibling on campus eases the pain for the Weilgunis, especially when they sit down together and Skype with their parents and friends back home.

"I love Chattanooga, but having a family member here makes it more enjoyable," said Benni, who speaks German with his sister. "I just love seeing my sister around on campus or on a golf course. It reminds me of our family."

Earlier this month they both practiced at The Honors Course. Sophie played the back nine while Benni walked the closing holes with coach Mark Guhne.

Sophie rifled a 3-wood approach from more than 200 yards out on No. 10. Her ball trickled into the bunker. leaving women's coach Colette Murray to say at the moment, "One yard more left and it's close, but that one yard right and you're in the bunker."

Sophie grimaced after tapping in her putt for bogey, then headed on to the next hole. She has room to improve her golf skills even though she shot a season-low 3-over-par 75 on Tuesday in the Knights and Pirates Invitational in .

But improvement is part of the reason she made the move from Miami -- better instruction and better competition.

"I was all alone and had to meet new people and learn a new culture, so I'm very happy I made this decision because it's just perfect," Sophie said. "What I wanted to do with my golf, I couldn't do there. Here you practice more and have more opportunities to achieve what I want."

Having a sibling a residence building away instead of a phone call away helps both of the Weilgunis -- especially Sophie.

She said: "I'm for sure less homesick because I have my brother here."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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