| March 17, 2018

Women’s Golf: Succeeding down South

The women’s golf team had a successful trip to Sin City for the 2017 Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown.

The team finished fourth overall out of 16 teams in the competition with a total score of 862, good for two under par on the tournament. Despite winds of up to 30 miles per hour on the final day of the tournament, Idaho finished especially strong with the second best overall score for each of the final two days.

Idaho went through plenty of ups and downs over the tournament’s three days. Juniors Sophie Hausmann and Michelle Kim each had four birdies on the front nine of Sunday’s round, but the team as a whole finished the day six-over. The Vandals were much more consistent on Monday and Tuesday, settling into fourth place after the second round and holding strong through the end of the tournament. They finished a full six strokes ahead of Fresno State and well ahead of Big Sky rivals Portland State and Northern Arizona.

The Vandals also had no shortage of individual success.

Freshman Valeria Patino led the team with a four-under for the tournament, which placed her in a tie for sixth overall in the tournament. She put together her best round on Monday, with three consecutive birdies on the back nine and six in total for the round. An even round on Tuesday secured the first top-10 finish of her young career.

“Kudos to Valeria for a solid performance,” coach Lisa Johnson said in a news release. “She’s playing like a seasoned veteran in only her fourth college event.”

Hausmann and Kim were both able to leverage their hot starts into top-20 finishes. Hausmann finished at two-under in a tie for eleventh, buoyed in part by an excellent performance on the course’s 16th hole. She birdied it in the first and third rounds, and scored Idaho’s first eagle of the year on it in the second. Kim finished at even-par en route to a tie for 16th.

The wind was an especially big factor in the final round, as the vast majority of competitors recorded their worst rounds on Tuesday. Nonetheless, the Vandals performed admirably.

“I was really proud of the team for a tremendous performance this week in a good field,” Johnson said. “The wind blew throughout the round (Tuesday) and we expertly managed the course.”

Senior Kendall Gray led the way on Tuesday even with the subpar conditions. She shot a two-under 71 in the final round, her best of the tournament. Gray overcame three bogeys at the end of the front nine, but rebounded well with three birdies on the back.

“What an excellent round today by Kendall,” Johnson said. “She has shown great growth throughout the fall season and we look for her to improve even more as the year progresses.

All in all, the Vandals had a thoroughly successful trip to Las Vegas.

“We showed mental toughness and steadfastness even in the rare instances we executed poorly or misjudged the wind” Johnson said.

Idaho wraps up their season at the UC Irvine Invitational beginning Oct. 30 at the Santa Ana Country Club in Santa Ana, Calif.

Jonah Baker can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @jonahpbaker

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