The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t affected any team on campus more than the Arizona women’s golf team. When play was stopped in the spring of 2020, the team was playing some of its best golf of the season just for it to abruptly end. One day, they win the Arizona Wildcat Invitational, the next, the world shuts down.
At the beginning of this season, head coach Laura Ianello didn’t have a full team, so she was forced to play the first two tournaments of the season with just a few players who played as individuals.
It wasn’t until their third tournament of the year that they had enough players to play as a team. Since then, the play has been inconsistent, and the unfortunate way the season started has had a role in the team not getting the results they have wanted in their tournaments so far this season.
The team’s best finish was second place in The Clover Cup. Now, by no means is this a bad team, according to Golfstat.com, who has the Wildcats ranked No. 22 in the country. This team still has the potential to go on a run and not only make noise in the Pac-12 championship but also the NCAA championship.
Most recently, the team had an eighth-place finish in the ASU Invitational. For sisters Vivian and Yu-Sang Hou, one wouldn’t question them if they were looking ahead to the ASU Invitational to the upcoming Augusta National Women’s Amateur event starting Wednesday, March 31.
The event, arguably, is the best women's amateur event that golf has to offer and features players from all around the world. The first 36 holes of the competition are played at the Champions Retreat Golf Club. For the players who play well enough to make the cut, the final round is played at the famed Augusta National. That final round will be played less than a week before this year’s Masters Tournament, so the course will be in pristine condition which it always is anyway.
This will be the Hou sisters' second time playing in the event. They both missed the cut in 2019 and were invited to last year’s event, but due to the pandemic, the event was canceled.
Both Vivian and Yu-Sang Hou are looking forward to this year’s tournament not only because they didn’t have the opportunity last year, but because the bitterness of the missed cut from two years ago still stings.
They credit each other for their confidence on the golf course. Both sisters draw a sense of comfort with having each other there.
“We are very lucky that we have each other, on and off the golf course,” Yu-Sang Hou said.
“I more keep to myself, except talking to my sister,” Vivian Hou said. “I’m not super outspoken on the course.”
The Hou sisters play an incredible amount of golf. They play in different amateur events around the world and events for the UA. You can tell how much they love golf and love being out on the golf course. For example, they played 54 holes in Phoenix over the weekend in the ASU Invitational then flew directly to Atlanta from Phoenix to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“We really enjoy traveling to different places,” Vivian Hou said.
They spend a ton of time on the road and have learned some tricks to traveling with your golf clubs. For those of you who travel with your golf clubs, read closely because the worst thing is getting to the course and finding something broken.
“We are always really nervous,” Vivian Hou said. “We have to put a lot of towels around our bags. We don’t want to open our travel bags and see clubs have broken in half.”
Hopefully, both Yu-Sang and Vivian Hou make the cut and get to play Augusta National. The team will be back in action starting Monday, April 5, when they head to Napa, California to play in the Silverado Showdown.
Follow Seth Litwin on Twitter