After one of their best season starts, the North Texas women’s golf team hopes to carry on their recent success as they travel down to Austin, Texas to compete in the Betsy Rawls Tournament. The Mean Green have finished with top-three finishes in their first two tournaments of the season. The team’s success has been a product of key performances from sophomores Audrey Tan, Patricia Sinolunghan and Katie Finley along with senior Lauren Cox.
“They showed up ready to play this fall,” head coach Michael Akers. “Most of them played in tournaments over the summer and worked on their games. [Cox], [Tan] and [Sinolunghan], all three of them did great and [Finley] from Texas A&M has certainly helped. The bottom line for success is the returners worked hard and recruiting. We did a good job of recruiting three newcomers.”
North Texas kicked off its season in Dallas at the Trinity Forest Invitational, hosted by Southern Methodist. The Mean Green sat in second place after the first day on the green with a team score of 6-over par. North Texas was able to keep the top three placement and finished in third place with an 11-over par on the final day of play. Senior golfer Lauren Cox finished the day tied for fifth place on the player leaderboards after shooting 2-under par. Tan tied for 16th place at 5-over par and sophomores Sinolunghan and Finley tied for 20th place with a final score of 7-over par.
“We were just fresh off summer and we were just ready to start the season again,” Tan said. “We’re so motivated and I think that really powered us through the tournament. I think that’s the same energy that we want to carry on to the next few tournaments for the rest of the fall.”
The Mean Green had a five-day break before traveling to Manhattan, Kansas for the Marilynn Smith Invitational. North Texas finished in second place after shooting 21-over par, four shots behind Kansas State. Sinolunghan finished tied for fourth place on the player leaderboard after ending the day at 2-over par. Cox finished tied for sixth place (3-over par) and Tan ended the tournament tied for 10th place (5-over par).
“Our team hits the ball very straight and doesn’t get into a lot of trouble,” Akers said. “The key for us is going to be short game and continuing to putt good and chip good. I’m certainly thrilled to death with the way we’ve played at the first two tournaments. We were in a position to win in both tournaments and playing against very good competition. A third and a second-place finish against those tournaments are very good.”
On Saturday, the Mean Green will face a field of opponents on Texas’ home golf course that includes the No. 2 Longhorns. The Betsy Rawls Invitational is expected to have faster greens on their course compared to what North Texas is normally accustomed to.
“Today we spent an hour and a half putting on faster greens,” senior golfer Lauren Cox said. “The greens out there are generally faster than what we’ve been practicing on and so adjusting to the speed and getting it right is something we’ve been working on. We’ve played some longer par threes to get ready for next week and some hillier courses because [Texas] has those too.”
North Texas competed in the Betsy Rawls Invitational last October and finished the weekend in tenth with a score of 9-over par. The top finisher for the Mean Green was Cox, who finished tied for 26th at 9-over.
Despite North Texas going into Austin with placements in two tournaments, Akers believes the team’s freshmen golfers Emilie Ricaud and Marija Jucmane have yet to fully hit their stride on the course. He cited the commonality for freshman student-athletes to experience an adjustment phase from high school to college athletics, especially if they are an international student. He believes the team can only go up from here once they can fully acclimate.
“I think both freshmen aren’t playing up to their full potential yet,” Akers said. “They’re very good players and any freshman, whether they’re an athlete or not has a transition period. So for our two freshmen, they’re from other parts of the world so they’re getting used to America, a new school, new coaches and new teammates. So everything is new for them and they have a lot to learn, neither of them has tapped into what they’re capable of doing yet and when they do, with the other four that we have it’s going to be scary how good we can be.”
Featured Image: Sophomore Audrey Tan watches her ball after hitting on the driving range during practice at Robson Ranch in Argyle, Texas on Sept. 19, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard