No. 5 ASU will begin its season on Sept. 9 in the Dale McNamara Fall Preview, sending five golfers, freshman Monica Vaughn, juniors Noemi Jimenez and Emilie Alonso, and seniors Laura Blanco and Daniela Ordonez.
A key player for ASU in this tournament, as well for the whole season, will be Jimenez. She returns for her junior season after earning second-team NGCA All-American honors and being named first-team All-Pac-12. During the summer, Jimenez finished 15th individually in the Ladies European Amateur and helped her home country of Spain to a second-place finish.
“It is a great tournament,” Jimenez said. “I am really motivated for the first tournament in my junior year of college and playing as the first spot…. I don’t know the course, but I know it is a tough tournament because there are very good teams over there.”
Another key player is Blanco, recently ranked No. 50 in the nation by Golf Digest.
“I think it really is an honor to be named one of the best 50 college players in the nation, especially for my senior year,” Blanco said. “So I will take it as an encouragement for a great season coming up.”
Monica Vaughn will be making her collegiate debut in the Fall Preview. She has the support of her teammate Blanco.
“I feel it will be a great tournament and a great way to start off the season competing against the best teams in the nation,” said Blanco. “In our lineup this tournament, we have Monica (Vaughn), the new freshman.” She is a great player and will have the support from us to succeed.
Freshmen Saki Iida and Mikayla Harmon did not qualify for their first collegiate tournament but remain energetic and optimistic for the upcoming season.
“My expectation would be of course for our team to win,” said Iida. “We also want to play smart golf. For the upcoming season, I am feeling excited and confident that our team will do well.”
Harmon reiterated the pressing need of bettering her overall game throughout the entire season in order to help the team succeed.
“I am definitely excited for this season — my first as a Sun Devil,” Harmon said. “I look forward to traveling with the team and improving my golf game over the course of this year.”
This tournament will be unlike the other ones throughout the season, because it also holds sentimental value. The tournament will be honoring four-time NCAA Champions, Hall of Fame golf coach and mother of ASU coach Melissa Luellen, Dale McNamara. McNamara coached Tulsa for 26 years and coached Luellen to an individual and team NCAA Championship in 1988.
The Sun Devils won this tournament last season, so they are familiar with the talent in the field. The tournament win was exceptionally exciting for Coach Melissa Luellen, because it was named after her mother.
Blanco said she is excited to get the season started with this weekend’s tournament and play in front of the ASU coach’s mother.
“It is nice to be playing and having the support of Dale (McNamara), and it will be a special week,” Blanco said.
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