Notebook: UTSA's Fabiola Arriaga on the rise
WOLCOTT, Colo. – Fabiola Arriaga’s first nine holes at Red Sky Golf Club on Sept. 24 were peppered with six bogeys. She ended that side with a 42, shook it off and returned a 33 to keep herself in the running at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Texas San Antonio counted her score at the end of the day.
That rebound is perhaps the best example of where Arriaga’s game has come in the past three years. The junior from Torreon, Mexico, says all progress she’s made since arriving in San Antonio has been mental. Head coach Carrie Parnaby agrees.
“She hardly works on her golf swing at all,” Parnaby said.
Just how much has Arriaga improved? Look to the numbers. She opened her junior season with a fifth-place finish at the Dale McNamara Invitational, then followed with a T-2 at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Arriaga regrouped to follow that opening 75 at Red Sky with rounds of 68-69. That scenario simply would not have happened when Arriaga was a freshman.
“No chance,” she said. “I would be like, ‘You’re done with this, just try to make pars.’”
Arriaga finished her freshman season ranked No. 288 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. She rose to No. 140 by the end of her sophomore season, and after her runner-up finish at Red Sky, is ranked No. 17.
“I’m really comfortable with my team, with my coach, so that’s been helping a lot,” Arriaga said. Still, every conversation about her improvement in the past three years circles back to her mental game. She overcomes bad shots by dividing each 18-hole round into three-hole segments. She thinks only about her current segment.
With Parnaby’s blessing, Arriaga attempted earlier this summer to qualify for this week’s Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. She was one of five players fighting for the third and final spot on Mexico’s team. She came up two shots short.
“She’s the most mentally tough player I’ve ever seen and that’s why she plays so consistently every week,” Parnaby said. “She just has a really good way of getting mentally prepared to play and then doesn’t think of swing stuff or anything else, just competes.”
From here, Arriaga hopes to continue to lower her average. Her goal number is 73 (she ended last season at 74.91). Parnaby says the improvement can continue if Arriaga plays with just a little more fire.
“She doesn’t like playing aggressive a lot of the times, so just boosting her confidence to go ahead and go for par 5s.”
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Eye on the rankings: The Golfweek/Sagarin College rankings have been updated for the first time this season. Washington took the top spot after a victory at the Oregon State Invitational.
Arizona, which won the Mason Rudolph Championship last week, came in at No. 2 and Texas Tech, which won the Ptarmigan Ram Classic on Sept. 11, rounds out the top 3.
Duke senior Lindy Duncan remains the top individual and Florida’s Camilla Hedberg is right behind her.
To view the rankings, click here.
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Division II dominance: Nova Southeastern won its season opener on Sept. 23, finishing on top of a Yale Intercollegiate leaderboard that included 15 Division I teams and just one other Division II program. The Sharks swept the top 3 spots on the individual leaderboard, with Daniela Ortiz winning medalist honors at 9-under 207. Abbey Gittings was runner-up with a 3-under total and Linnea Johansson was third at even par. Nova Southeastern won the team title by 26 shots over Penn State.
It’s not a bad way for Nova Southeastern to start its fourth consecutive season as defending Division II national champions. The Sharks were third at this event a year ago.
“This is one of our best team performances in recent history against a very competitive field,” head coach Amanda Brown said. “Everyone contributed especially Daniela, Abbey and Linnea who each fought for the individual medalist title and all ended up placing in the top three.
Nova Southeastern Athletics contributed
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Five questions with UC Davis senior Demi Runas, who won the Golfweek Conference Challenge on Sept. 26.
1. You won your third collegiate title at Red Sky. What do you take away from the week?
Every tournament is a learning experience. Being really, really patient is what I took away from this week. This course especially has really taught me that you need to be patient, and you need to take your medicine when you need to and attack pins when you can.
2. What’s your best advice for scoring on this golf course?
Yardage guides are amazing here. Using it to place yourself on the fairways and the greens, and it makes the course a lot simpler when you’re on the right side of the hole. Just simplifying the golf course – like, there’s the trouble and you’re taking it out of play.
3. Was it hard to come back from a tournament-record 67 in Round 2 and keep your head on straight?
I just came into it thinking, you’re hitting the ball well and you putted well yesterday and just kind of go out and do the same thing. It’s one hole at a time, one shot at a time. I did have a bit of a hiccup on the back nine so I just needed to calm myself and regroup.
4. This is your last trip to Vail, Colo., for this event. What’s the most memorable thing your team has done here in the past three years?
Just staying at the host hotels. We tried to go up in the gondola but the last year was really cloudy so we couldn’t get up there. But we actually went and walked around the town. Just being in this area is amazing, and it means so much to win here in my last year, being a senior. It’s a nice farewell.
5. What do you plan to do after graduation?
I’m going to go to Q-School in September and see where that takes me. I guess I’ll just take everything with a grain of salt from there and just try to keep doing what I’ve been doing, keep working hard and hopefully it pays off.