The UC Irvine women’s golf team got back to its dominant ways with an impressive victory at the Lady Aztec Fall Classic on the Salt Creek Golf Course in San Diego on Tuesday.
The Anteaters won the 19-team event with a 36-hole total of 593. It was the Anteaters’ first victory of the season. Earlier this month, they finished seventh in the Giustina Memorial Classic in Corvallis, Ore., which was a disappointing showing for the team. It was their first tournament of the season and they had a tough time adjusting to the course and format.
However, that was not the case in this tournament. There were three Anteaters in the top 10, and sophomore Patty Chawalimetha earned medallist honors. She was the only player to finish under par and win by three strokes over Cal State Northridge’s Krystina Gillenwater with a score of 140.
It was the reigning Big West Freshman of the Year’s first collegiate title, and she joins Selanee Henderson, Stella Lee and Walailak Satarak as one of the only UCI players to earn medallist honors.
‘She is maturing as a player every day. It’s one of those things where she is just building confidence. She’s only going to get better,’ said Coach Julie Brooks.
The victory marked the 12th time that the Lady Anteaters have garnered a tournament title in the program’s impressive, short history. Following UCI were East Tennessee State and Hawaii by 10 shots.
Senior Kim Lorenzana tied for third with a score of 148, her best career finish.
Fellow senior Selanee Henderson finished 96th with a score of 170. It is difficult to see Henderson playing poorly. She was the most highly-touted golfer on the Anteater squad coming into this season. She had been struggling to find her swing as of late.
‘She is rebounding, and she is hitting the ball well [in practice] right now. Hopefully, in our next game, her game will reflect in her scores,’ Brooks said.
It is encouraging to know, however, that when Henderson does find her swing, this already-seasoned squad will be a force in the Conference and out of it.
Another highlight of the tournament was the play by the UCI freshmen.
Rounding out the top 10 finishers for UCI was freshman Hillary Packard, who finished in a seventh-place tie with a score of 150. Packard shot a team best of 71 on Tuesday to move from 50th to seventh, a remarkable turnaround for a player who was competing in her first collegiate event. It was a top 10 finish, I might add again.
Freshman Sarah Fox was not far behind, finishing 23rd with a score of 153.
‘The freshmen are progressing very well. Hillary had a couple bogeys on the first day. She was a bit nervous. The next day, though, she was on fire. At one point, she was three under. She stepped up and played well. Sarah struggled a little bit the second day, but she was very solid the first day.’
‘They are so much fun to be around, and they are already adding to our wonderful atmosphere. They are stepping up and playing some good golf,’ Brooks said.
The Anteaters will next compete in the Kent Youel Invitational in Honolulu, Ha. on Oct. 30 and 31.
‘We got some momentum going to Honolulu. It’s a homecoming for me [since she was an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii prior to coming to UCI], and we are going to show the girls around the island. It’s a reward for them; they have worked hard for this. Going to Hawaii is a special treat.’
Touring and playing in Hawaii will be sweet, but taking home a second consecutive tournament championship will be sweeter.