FORT WORTH, Texas — Tying its season-low round at 283 strokes collectively propelled the women’s golf team to finish No. 5 at its annual home tournament, The Bruzzy.
Played at Waterchase Golf Club this year, the event marked North Texas’ regular season finale as it played host to all 10 Big 12 Conference teams along with the University of Tulsa and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. The Mean Green came into the tournament ranked No. 46 nationally and finished behind three top 20 teams along with No. 30 Texas Christian University while besting three top 50 squads.
Its performance means North Texas is all but assured a top 50 ranking heading into the Conference USA tournament on April 18-20. Such a standing essentially guarantees the team a spot in one of the six NCAA Regional tournaments.
“I’m very happy with fifth place against this caliber of teams,” head coach Michael Akers said. “We should have solidified our at-large bid at this point. […] The way we finished, I don’t see how we don’t improve from 46 and get well within the [bubble].”
Senior golfer Audrey Tan led the team at 8-under-par for the tournament to finish No. 3 individually, finishing one stroke off her program record for best 54-hole score (207). Rounds of 1-under, 3-under and 4-under par made Tan one of four individuals to go below par in all three rounds. She leads the team in strokes per round average at 71.46 for the season and has finished top 25 individually in seven of eight tournaments this season.
“Being able to play well and capitalize on having this as our home course and that advantage is great,“ Tan said. “I feel like my mind is still on the course, doing that one-shot at a time thing and trying not to get caught up in the results. […] I don’t think I’ve actually settled down to soak it in or reevaluate my game yet, but it feels good.”
Joining Tan in the top 15 was sophomore golfer Shreya Pal who finished a career-best No. 13 at even-par as she made the lineup for the fourth time this season. Her performance proved crucial as junior golfer Emilie Ricaud, a lineup regular, missed her second consecutive tournament with an unspecified injury. Pal improved on a first-round 74 to card consecutive 1-under-par rounds and climb the leaderboard.
The team playing several practice rounds at the course over the month leading up to the tournament is something Pal said helped fuel her success.
“I knew where I could not miss a shot and where was the best spot to be on the green for that pin position,” Pal said. “I was playing pretty consistently. It was nothing great but I was hitting fairways, regulations and had a lot of birdie chances.”
The other three golfers in North Texas’ lineup each had up-and-down tournaments which saw all three shoot their best score in a different round. Sophomore golfer Ellie Roth finished at 9-over-par, tied for No. 51, after going 1-under in the opening round. Junior Patricia Sinolungan went 1-under herself in round two and ended up tied for No. 54 at 10-over.
Rounding out the starting five, junior golfer Marija Jucmane posted a career-best 5-under-par 67 in the tournament’s final round to reach a tie for No. 58 at 11-over. The final round score marked her first time shooting a sub-70 round in college.
“Every shot counts,” Jucmane said. “Every shot towards that big field [of teams] can possibly beat another team. Someone that’s higher in the rankings than you but could mean a lot for our rankings at the end of the day. Even if it’s tough conditions, sometimes one shot or two shots makes a big, big deal.”
Heading into the C-USA tournament next week, the Mean Green will look to defend last season’s conference title, the first in program history. Tan will also aim to defend her individual title from last season’s tournament.
“The goal was and always will be to have your at-large bid secured when you go to the conference [tournament],” Akers said. “You’re going to regionals no matter what so you go to conferences stress free and you’re playing for the ring. That’s basically it. I think you play a little looser and can relax a little more.”
Featured Image: Women’s golf senior Audrey Tan tees off during the final round of The Bruzzy at Waterchase Golf Club on April 12,2022. Photo by John Fields.