When Texas-San Antonio won the Alamo Invitational on Nov. 1, the Roadrunners effectively turned around their season. It had been a “funny fall,” as head coach Carrie Parnaby noted, but now the team is back on track.
Before hosting the Alamo at Briggs Ranch Golf Course, UTSA had finished 11th, 12th and 15th in its first three starts. It had been a story of putting two solid rounds together, but missing the third. The trend began at the season opening “Mo”Morial, where UTSA opened with rounds of 312-305, only to finish with a final-round 330 that left the Roadrunners in next-to-last place.
“It’s just been really up and down, but we’ve just tried to be determined and believe in our practice and what we’ve been doing, so it’s just really nothing different,” Parnaby said. “We’ve just tried to stay really consistent and keep working hard, and the girls have really bought into that.”
With a team full of returners, Parnaby attributes the rough patch to strength of schedule. It’s something she’s been gradually increasing since she took the helm of the program four years ago. That and increasing the strength of UTSA’s home tournament. It’s why winning the event – and shooting a school-record 5-under 283 in the process – was no small feat.
The Roadrunners not only put an end to Baylor’s two-event winning streak at Briggs Ranch, but also finished ahead of five other top-50 teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings: Texas A&M (No. 17), Texas Tech (No. 24), TCU (No. 32), Kentucky (No. 37) and UCF (No. 46). UTSA is ranked No. 81.
“There’s always that extra added pressure when you’re playing at home, but they handled it great, and I really just think that that self-belief that they’ll gain will really help them in the future,” Parnaby said.
Parnaby calls the win a true team effort, but there’s no denying individual medalist Fabiola Arriaga (3-under 213) was at the forefront of the charge. Arriaga shot a back-nine 4-under 32 in the final round to seal the team’s three-shot win, and Parnaby wasn’t the least bit surprised.
“We’ve just been kind of waiting for her to win a tournament, really,” she said.
UTSA had one more start this fall, at the Challenge at Onion Creek next week, before stashing the clubs until spring. But one thing is for certain: They’ll remember the Alamo.
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No change here: Arkansas this week extended the contracts of six of its most successful head coaches, including head women’s golf coach Shauna Estes-Taylor.
Estes-Taylor is in her 10th season with the Razorbacks and her fifth season as head coach. She has led the Razorbacks to four consecutive NCAA regional appearances, as well as two NCAA Championship berths. Arkansas finished a program-best tie for fifth at the 2011 NCAAs. During her head-coaching tenure, Arkansas has posted four top-5 finishes at the SEC Championship, including two runners-up.
Arkansas is No. 45 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
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Anderson update: North Dakota State junior Amy Anderson won her 13th collegiate title in 27 starts Nov. 1 at the Campbell Fighting Camel Classic. Anderson shot 5-under 67 in the final round, a school record, to finish at 1-under 215 for the 54-hole event.
Anderson also won the Concordia Cobber Open and the Xavier LPGA Invitational earlier this season. She won five events in each of the past two seasons, and last season finished T-12 at the NCAA Championship, where she competed as an individual.
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Five questions with Purdue junior Paula Reto, who won her first collegiate title Oct. 30 at the Landfall Tradition:
1.) What clicked for you at this tournament?
This whole fall, I struggled with my putting and then after having our second tournament, we had about three weeks of practice and all I did was work on my putting, work on the same routine every single time. We went to go play a few times at the course, and I think this is what made me play so good in this tournament, just getting over that one step of making just a few more putts and that helped me a lot, just committing to every shot. It really helped me. I think the two weeks of preparation after our first tournament was what helped me. I struggle with my putting so much.
2.) How much motivation was caused by a few low finishes this fall?
I think it is because Jam (Vilairatana) is a junior but it’s her first year playing and so is Aurora (Kan), first year playing. I think them looking up to me and Laura (Gonzalez), kind of motivates them because they know we’ve been on the team a few years already. Seeing them play one or two goods rounds this tournament was motivating to them. Seeing me and Laura do good, as well, motivates them.
3.) Did you or Laura Gonzalez, as the only returners from the national championship team, talk to the other girls about winning here in 2010?
We did, (we said), ‘Ladies, this is where we won our first championship and we should definitely see if we can win this tournament, it would mean a lot to us – just to Purdue.’ My coach took us on a round-trip to see where we were at the clubhouse (in 2010). All the ladies were really proud of it and we had a definitely different kind of level of commitment to the team and wanting to do better as what we had the previous three tournaments. We didn’t have any negative thoughts, we only had positive thoughts. Even the second day, the conditions played really hard, we had a few good rounds in there and then the last round I think everybody gave their best.
4.) Which was the more difficult course: Nicklaus, which you played this year, or Dye, which you played in 2010?
The Dye two years ago I thought played longer and a little bit harder, although the Nicklaus course was more, you have to place your ball for the tee shot pretty well to have a shot in, there were a few island greens. I felt like the Dye course was harder for me compared to the Nicklaus course. We had a tough condition day the second day on the Nicklaus course, I don’t remember having bad conditions on the Dye Course two years ago. Both courses are great condition and beautiful and by any means I’d go back any time.
5.) What is your practice regimen like during an Indiana winter?
I’m definitely going to work on my putting. … Obviously we won’t be able to play on the courses but some of us will go home where there’s good weather and practice there. For now, we’ll do one hour a day or so working indoors on techniques and certain areas of our game where we feel like we need to improve. We’ll improve mentally and physically and see what we can do for that.