ASU women’s golf is off to a strong start in their home tournament, as all five Sun Devils finished in the top 30 for individual scores on a gorgeous day at the Karsten Golf Course. ASU trails only the University of Washington by three strokes.
Playing for ASU was senior Justine Lee (2-under 70), junior Noemi Jimenez (even at 72), freshman Monica Vaughn (even at 72), junior Emilie Alonso (1-over 73) and senior Daniela Ordonez (1-over 73).
Three Sun Devils played as individuals, including senior Laura Blanco (2-under 70), freshman Saki Iida (4-over 76) and senior Nicole Jones (5-over 77).
Coach Melissa Luellen was pleased with her team’s start to the day, shooting a combined 3-under through the first nine holes.
“We started like gangbusters,” Luellen said. “Justine birdied the first three holes and things were clicking along very nicely.”
The Sun Devils would return back to Earth after a combined seven bogeys and two double bogeys on the back nine. However, it was the support from the Sun Devil faithful that propelled the team to a strong end.
“We had a couple double bogeys and a couple missed putts,” Luellen said. “But it was very nice when we had a lot of our Sun Devil athletic personnel come out wearing gold on the last hole. Two girls made birdie and it gave them something to cheer for.”
Despite the advantages of being home sweet home, ASU will have to be on the top of their game because there are no slouches in this tournament. Nine of the 14 teams the Sun Devils are competing against are nationally ranked, including two of the three schools currently ranked ahead of ASU in UCLA and Duke.
The Sun Devils are aware of the strength of the field, but that only gives them more motivation.
“Many times when we talk about goals we want to finish top three or top four,” Luellen said. “Last night it was very clear that they wanted to win.”
ASU should be pleased with the way they played today, but they also know it’s only one day and there is still improvements to be made.
“I just want them to keep competing and stay assertive, if you start backing up or getting tentative bad things happen,” Luellen said. “One of our simple goals is getting chips to the hole, getting putts to the hole. If you can focus on that you’ll save a shot a round.”
First place for individual score on the day was shared by UCLA junior Ani Gulugian and South Carolina freshman Katelyn Dambaugh, with scores of 4-under with 68.
Tee time for the second round of the PING/ASU Invitational is set for April 5 at 8 a.m.
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