Blanco tries to follow in Murcia Ortiz's footsteps at Copa

Laura Blanco (file photo)

Laura Blanco (file photo)

Editor's note: For our complete Copa de las Americas coverage, click here.

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DORAL, Fla. – From a fairway away, Laura Blanco could pass for an Arizona State player of old, Juliana Murcia Ortiz. That’s good news for Blanco.

The Colombian grew up idolizing compatriot Murcia Ortiz. She’s one reason Blanco ended up on the Sun Devils' roster two years ago.

Blanco has the same confident stride and swinging black braid as Murcia Ortiz, who graduated from Arizona State in 2010 and has since turned professional. Murcia Ortiz finished 29th on the Symetra Tour money list in 2012.

By week’s end at the Copa de las Americas, Blanco could join Murcia Ortiz in the event’s record book. The competition is between four-player teams from South America, Central America, North America and the Caribbean, and features overall team, male team and female team winners.

When Murcia Ortiz played this tournament in 2005 with Paola Morena, the Colombian women won. Blanco is well aware.

“We are defending,” she said.

Colombia was solo third on the overall leaderboard after Round 2, and the women are tied for fourth with Mexico at 17-over 305. Argentina and Canada are tied for first, five shots lower.

Blanco called Friday at Doral’s Blue Monster moving day. It was the team strategy, and she delivered with a 2-under 70. That was the lowest round among the women, and at 1-over 145, Blanco has the second-lowest total of any woman.

“Our coach enforced this morning course management,” she said. “... It was very important for us being calm and being very assertive with our swings, with our shots, with our plan. That was the focus of the day.”

By No. 3, Blanco realized the holes were in difficult enough locations that it could be a long day. Still, she was striking the ball well, so she gave herself the green light to play aggressively.

“I hit the ball well today so I was trying to go for every pin I could,” she said.

That’s not something Blanco has picked up recently. She says she’s always relied on an accurate and “assertive” long game. Since arriving at Arizona State, head coach Melissa Luellen and assistant coach Missy Farr Kaye have helped her develop touch.

Blanco hit 16 greens on Friday, and got up and down when she missed.

“We work a lot on my short game, that’s probably my weakness,” Blanco said.

Even the work Blanco has put in with Luellen and Farr Kaye carries a bit of Murcia Ortiz’s touch.

“She introduced me to Melissa and she was a great help for me being there,” Blanco said. “When I was in the recruit process, I was always being helped by her.”

Call it a two-part legacy: Half country, half college.

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