The ASU women’s golf team is heading to South Carolina this week to compete in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Tournament for the very first time.
ASU will be the only school from the western side of the country taking part in the contest at the Long Cove Club from March 8 to March 10.
Coach Melissa Luellen said she is glad to be traveling to a part new part of the country, because it allows for the chance to face new competition.
“Traveling to South Carolina gives us the chance to play against teams we don’t see all the time, primarily from the SEC,” she said.
New competition means new courses as well. The Long Cove Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C. is longer than 7,000 yards with a par 71.
Opponents will include numerous ranked teams, including No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 7 Arkansas.
Alabama not only enters the tournament as the field’s top seed and the tournament’s reigning champion. The Crimson Tide will bring one of the nation’s top players, No. 5 junior Stephanie Meadow.
ASU enters the tournament with five players. One competitor sophomore Noeimi Jimenez was champion of her last tournament. She took her first career individual title at the Cal Classic on Feb. 26 and is looking to continue her streak of dominance over the weekend.
“Noemi looks and feels good,” Luellen said. “She would really like to keep her good play up.”
Aside from Jimenez, the Sun Devils squad will be made up of sophomore Emilie Alonso along with juniors Laura Blanco, Nicole Jones and Daniela Ordonez.
Luellen said Blanco, the No. 44 player in the nation, has worked on her putting during her time off because she’s hungry to finish higher in the standings. Blanco finished tied for sixth in the team’s last tournament in Pleasanton, Calif.
Alonso, who has a career average of 78 strokes per round at ASU, is looking to improve on that mark.
“Emilie is a little frustrated with her game but knows she could play much better,” Luellen said.
Averaging almost 84 strokes per round, Jones is also working toward diminishing that mark, Luellen said.
Ordonez has continually battled back issues, which didn’t allow her to practice as much. However, Luellen said she felt great after her last round at the Cal Classic, and she should be fine for the upcoming tournament.
Coming off their best performance of the spring, Luellen said it is important for her players to focus on their own games and no one else’s if they want to succeed once again.
“We want to make sure our individual goals are set and clear,” Luellen said. “That’s how we can help our girls play best.”
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