Anteaters Host Third Annual UC Irvine Invitational

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Courtesy of UCI Athletics

Teeing off against an elite field of competition at the UC Irvine Invitational, UC Irvine women’s golf team held their own, but ultimately finished last after concluding the second day of play at the Santa Ana Country Club last Tuesday.

The Anteaters finished 13th with a three-round total of 922 (308-303-311), five strokes behind 12th place Long Beach State.

Offering the tournament winner a sponsor’s exemption to the LPGA Kia Classic, the UC Irvine Invitational is the only event of its kind.A

Included within the tournament field were nine players ranked in the top 30 nationally, ten teams ranked in the top 60, and three within the top five. Host UC Irvine and rivals Long Beach State were the only unranked competitors amongst the field.

“It’s good, you just need to go into the tournament not psyching yourself out and realizing that you’re just as good as all of them,” said sophomore Kaley In. “It’s actually really fun playing with better teams because you get better lines and breaks. You get to see their putts and shots versus a lower a team (not to single any team out), and it’s fun.”

No. 15 Texas A&M’s Marijosse Navarro captured the tournament’s individual title and an exemption in the Kia Class in dramatic fashion against Gabrielle Then of USC. Navarro (72-68-71) shot a birdie on the 18th hole of the final round to finish five-under par to tie with Then (70-68-73) and force a playoff. The duo matched scores through four playoff holes until Then failed to make her final four-foot putt for par to concede the tiebreaker to Navarro.

In led the Anteaters by finishing with a total score of 228. Behind her is freshman Camille Wagg, who tied for 47th with 229. Junior Kristin Henno placed 54th with 231 and sophomore Samantha Chan finished 66th at 239. Freshman Kelsey Kawauguchi rounded out the pack at 70 with a final tally of 244.

Following the first day’s action, In stood at 15th place with a score of 145 (73-73) after two rounds of play. Unfortunately, In struggled on the second and finished the final 18 holes with a score of 83 to slip to 42nd place.

“I really struggled with my ball-striking during all three rounds,” said In. “The struggle was more prominent in my last round because it built up, the swing thoughts, everything I had was just getting filled up with thoughts.”

Individually, UCI’s freshmen had a strong showing, as Breanna Jones tied for 42nd with 228 while Joo Seo tied for 47th with 229.

UC Irvine will look to improve upon its performance when the Anteaters return to action on March 9-10 at the Bay Area Intercollegiate at the Meadow Club in Fairfax, California.