In the swing of things
Margarita Ramos, a senior on the Arizona women's golf team, stepped onto the LPGA Tour's biggest stage on July 7.
Ramos was part of the field at the U.S. Women's Open, at the Broadmoor East Course in Colorado Springs, Colo., along with Arizona alumni Natalie Gulbis, Leta Lindley and Alison Walshe.
Though Ramos missed the cut by shooting a 22-over-par 164 through the first two rounds, she said she gained experience that will help her during her senior season, and ultimately as she transitions to professional golf.
""Even though I didn't play my best, it was amazing to be part of a major,"" Ramos said. ""I learned a lot about myself.""
Perhaps the biggest lesson learned by Ramos, who was named second-team All-American by the National Golf Coaches Association her sophomore season, is how prepared Tour players are on a weekly basis.
""I went to the tournament as prepared as I could and it made me realize that in order to compete at that level, I have to work harder,"" Ramos said. ""Even though this tournament didn't go as I wanted, it was definitely a great step.""
Ramos had a gallery of supporters that made the trip from Tucson, including second-year coach Laura Ianello, who played in three U.S. Women's Opens, in one of which she was a member of the UA women's golf team.
""Margarita is very, very talented,"" Ianello said. ""All of the pros struggled putting-wise, it was a very low-scoring week.""
Although Ianello has experience in a situation similar to Ramos', the coach wasn't able to give her much advice leading up to the tournament.
""I didn't really get to work hands-on with (Ramos) or anything because it's summertime and the offseason,"" Ianello said. ""I told her that the rough will be thick and you definitely need to be accurate off the tee. Your short game, especially your putting, needs to be very sharp.""
But even without being in constant contact with Ianello, Ramos was able to tap into another source of golfing information — UA men's assistant coach Andy Barnes, who was her caddy.
Andy Barnes played in the 1999 U.S. Open and caddied for his brother, Ricky Barnes, in several tournaments, including his second-place finish at the 2009 U.S. Open.
""It was unreal to have Andy Barnes by my side every round,"" Ramos said. ""I felt like a professional to have someone as experienced as him helping me.""
Because of her amateur status, Ramos was required to play in the Mesa sectional qualifier to gain entry into the U.S. Women's Open field. Ramos won the qualifying tournament in a playoff, which solidified her spot in Colorado Springs.
Ianello said that just qualifying for a U.S. Open is one of the most challenging feats in the game.
""Just qualifying is such an honor, it's a huge task and a difficult task,"" Ianello said. ""It was just so exciting for her … she wants to play professionally some day, and this was so good for her to get that experience … it really helped her confidence.""
Even though Ramos struggled in her U.S. Women's Open debut, Ianello said she expects Ramos to have a successful career after college.
""She's a great young lady with a strong family support, and has all the tools it will take to be a professional golfer,"" Ianello said. ""She has such a great game … she'll do very well.""