After a long season, the ASU women’s golf team will end the regular season on its own course, where the Sun Devils have been dominant for the past decade.
The PING/ASU Invitational, played on Karsten Golf Course, has been won by the Sun Devils twice in the last nine seasons. Overall, ASU has placed in the top three in seven years during that span.
Coach Melissa Luellen said her team’s success is due to its preparation for its home course.
“We have had success in the past years at this tournament. It’s always got a great field, so if we excel and finish high, we know that we can be proud of ourselves,” Luellen said. “Conditions are always as the Spring winds in the desert can get very challenging. We know this going in, and we are always ready for it.”
Luellen also won the PING/ASU Invitational in 2002, while she was coaching at Tulsa.
Since her hiring as ASU head coach later in 2002, Luellen has won 24 tournaments, including the 2009 NCAA championship, and has seen one of her players lead a tournament in individual scoring 20 times.
For some teams, hosting a tournament puts them under a lot of pressure to play well on their home course. The word “pressure” doesn’t seem to be in the Sun Devils’ vocabulary.
“Pressure is what you create for yourself. Our players are excited to be at home and have the local support and play a course they are familiar with,” Luellen said. “Assistant head coach Missy Kaye is the tournament director for the PING/ASU Invitational. She organizes over 80 volunteers and all functions of the tournament, which allows me to completely focus on preparing the team.”
In addition to the team’s success at Karsten, a Sun Devil held the individual scoring title three times in the tournament since 2002.
Obviously, there must be something about Karsten Golf Course that coach Luellen can sustain this kind of success every year.
“This is the best time of the year for Karsten’s condition. The greens are fast and firm, the rough is thick and the fairways are cut nice and tight,” Luellen said. “The staff at ASU deserve a ton of credit for getting the course in top shape.”
With the tournament just days away, Luellen said her team is preparing for the wind as well as playing on fast greens.
ASU is currently fourth in the NCAA rankings, behind two Pac-12 rivals in USC and UCLA. UCLA, along with seven other Pac-12 teams, will be facing off against ASU in the PING/ASU Invitational.
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