The UC Irvine women’s golf team won the Big West Championship last year and is back for more. They started the season off last week with a solid fourth-place finish at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate golf tournament in Denver. But that is just one small step towards the overall goal for Julie Brooks’ squad.
“From what I have seen so far we can easily surpass what we have done in the past two years,” Brooks said.
That is a very tall order considering they have won four consecutive Big West titles and made it to nationals in 2006. But Brooks and her slightly revamped group are up for the challenge.
This year’s team features new and returning faces like fifth-year senior Jane Chin and freshman standout Joy Trotter. Chin is coming back after red-shirting last year and has been very busy. She came in second at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate last week and won the Long Beach Women’s City Championship in June. The year off has really helped Chin improve her game and become a more focused ball striker. With her success at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate, the time off seems to have worked.
“I took the year off to just work on my game a little bit,” Chin said. “I wasn’t really expecting much [at Ron Moore] because I took the year off and I just wanted to play a solid round. I played better than I expected.”
Chin did better than anyone could imagine. Her 54-hole total of 208 is the best in UCI history. She had 14 birdies on the tournament and led the field in par three scoring.
Chin has also brought a lot of wisdom to the team. She is a fifth-year senior on a team with some very young golfers. The team has brought on two freshmen this year that have already made an impact. Joy Trotter and Lalita Patipaksiri are the latest addition to the roster.
“They did pretty well for their first tournament in Denver,” Chin said. “They are really good players. They putt really well and I think they will do really well.”
Chin has even helped them get adjusted to life at Irvine. Both Trotter and Patipaksiri stayed at Chin’s house for a few weeks before fall session started. That gave the girls time to bond and gave the freshmen a chance to feel more comfortable.
However, Chin and Trotter had already met even before that. Both of the golfers played in the women’s amateur tournament in August. Trotter, like Chin, has been playing all summer and has been improving her game from top to bottom in order to get ready for the season.
Trotter won CIF for the southern section while in high school and is confident that she can bring that type of winning approach to UCI.
“I just moved into the dorms and it has been a good experience,” Trotter said. “I played a lot of amateur golf over the summer and it’s just about the same level of competition. But it is a lot of fun playing other schools and [our team] gets along really well.”
Trotter brings a steady game to an already very solid program. Henna Cho and Patty Chawalitmetha are returning this year as juniors after very successful seasons last year. The team has enough talent to make an impact not only in their conference but also at nationals.
The team is entering the season after a very solid start in Denver and will hopefully continue to play well in their next tournament in early October.