It is an understatement to say this will be a season to remember for the Arizona women’s golf team. The fact the team has even had a season is remarkable in itself. That was not certain in January.
To start the season, head coach Laura Ianello didn’t have enough players to participate as a team in tournaments. Instead, the players who were eligible to play competed as individuals. It was not until the squad's third tournament of the year when they had enough eligible players to compete as a team. However, despite all the adversity, Ianello has her team ready and confident to make a national championship run.
“We can win this week," Ianello said. "We have a roster that can win the championship if we do what we need to, and we do it right."
Beyond having the confidence they can win a national championship, the team has location and course type on their side. This year's national championship course is Grayhawk Golf Club just a couple of hours north in Scottsdale. Not having to jump on a plane or change time zones is a huge advantage over some of the other teams in the field. Grayhawk is also a desert-style golf course that can trip up players who are unaccustomed to that style. The type of grass, the sightlines off the tee, how the ball rolls on the green and fairway all take some getting used to. Arizona’s players said they enjoy this type of golf and feel it could be a difference for them this week.
“When you only have two hours to drive, you can practice to the last minute. And all you have to do is drive a couple hours, and you are ready to play,” sophomore Gile Bite Starkute said.
“It's a typical desert course, so we know that pretty well,” senior Yu-Sang Hou said.
“Our whole team really loves the golf course, so we are really looking forward to playing,” sophomore Vivian Hou said.
This team had every opportunity to pack it in this season, and nobody would have questioned them. Instead, they kept working hard and have given themselves the chance to go on a run that would rank with some of the all-time moments in college golf history. National championship play starts May 21, and the format of the national championship looks like this.
“The championship format consists of all 24 teams and 12 individuals completing 54 holes of stroke play, and then the top 15 teams along with the top nine individuals not on an advancing team competing for one additional day of stroke play to determine the top eight teams for match play competition and the 72-hole stroke play individual champion. The top eight teams then compete in match play for the team national championship,” NCAA described on their website.
For the full field list, look here.
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