After several months of waiting, it’s finally time for the Arizona women’s golf team to step back onto the course. The Wildcats will be playing in the Superstition Challenge starting on Sunday, Jan. 24. However, the team will look a little different than normal.
Since head coach Laura Ianello doesn’t have all of her players back in Tucson yet, the Wildcats will only have sophomores Gile Bite Starkute and Therese Warner along with freshman Maya Benita playing as individuals in the weekend tournament.
“I only have three ladies competing this week, because that’s all I have eligible,'' Ianello said. “This is just gonna be kind of a start of the season. Let's get back to competition and then we will be able to have a team fully moving forward beginning of February.”
Starkute is embarking on her second season with the Wildcats, where she spent her freshman year adjusting to the differences between golfing on the courses in Arizona and her hometown courses almost 6,000 miles away. Starkute is from Lithuania and, to put it plainly, Arizona and Lithuania don’t exactly look, or play, alike.
“I do enjoy desert golf, I don’t find it more difficult or anything, so I mean it’s nice,” Starkute said. “I love the weather here. Just try to keep the ball in play and not behind a cactus, that’s all you need to do.”
Starkute is ready for the challenge of playing as an individual and is excited to show the improvements she has made since last season's COVID-19 ending.
“I have been working quite a lot on my swing, so I think the biggest key right now is feeling confident with what I’m doing,” Starkute said. “This first tournament I really hope to just see where I’m standing at and see what I can do on the course.”
Following the Superstition Challenge, the women’s team will be heading to San Diego, California to play in the Lamkin Invitational starting Monday, March. 8.
Arizona men’s golf hopes to rebound from Copper Cup loss
After a tough loss last week in the Copper Cup to rival Arizona State, Arizona men’s golf looks to bounce back in a big way at their upcoming home tournament, the Arizona Intercollegiate at Sewailo Golf Course starting Monday, Jan. 25.
The Arizona Intercollegiate and the course it is played on is something this team knows very well. The Wildcats have won the last three Arizona Intercollegiate tournaments and have a lot of confidence heading into this one.
“I think just the familiarity, it is 2500 feet here so a lot of schools that we get coming here are from different elevations,” said redshirt senior Brad Reeves. “The weather is a little bit warmer and it is a lot easier to make swings when you are comfortable with a course you have seen a lot.”
Last weekend’s loss in the Copper Cup taught the team some valuable lessons that they will have going forward. Not playing for a score and the tournament’s head-to-head setup certainly posed some challenges for the Wildcats, who are now looking for their first tournament of the season.
“Not giving your competitor any room to attack,” Reeves said. “Basically, play your own game and try not to worry about what they're doing, worry about what you are doing. Not showing a lot of emotion is really important because as soon as you show that you are upset with something that's kind of like a sign of weakness and you don’t want to give that sign to your opponent.”
The experience wasn’t just valuable to the players, but also to head coach Jim Anderson.
“I think that the connectivity of our team is very, very very good right now,” Anderson said. “Having the ability to seek their input, to strike up the pairings and decide who the best players are to play with one another was really fun and beneficial. I think starting the semester off in that format where it’s purely about the team it just helps us throughout the rest of this season when it comes to playing for something bigger than ourselves,” Anderson said.
After the Arizona Intercollegiate, the team will travel to La Quinta, California to play in The Prestige at PGA West starting Monday, Feb. 15.
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