The seventh-ranked Mississippi State University women’s golf team traveled to Papago Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona, this past weekend for the 50th PING/ASU Invitational.
After heavy rain shortened their last tournament in Florida, the Bulldogs did not have to worry about weather this time around. The Valley of the Sun remained true to its reputation, and the teams played the tournament as scheduled beginning on Friday and concluding on Sunday.
Team play would not be the only style that featured stiff competition, as 26 of the Top 100 female collegiate golfers were on the course this weekend, including the Bulldogs' 5th-ranked Julia Lopez Ramirez, 71st-ranked Hannah Levi and 82nd-ranked Izzy Pellot, who made the incredible leap from No. 103 in the previous rankings.
Led by head coach Charlie Ewing and assistant Lauren Whyte, the Bulldogs finished in fourth place, shotting only four strokes over par for the entire tournament. MSU was beaten out only by other top 25 teams in No. 23 Northwestern University, the home team of No. 11 Arizona State University and No. 14 Baylor University.
The Bulldogs competed with the same lineup, which currently boasts the lowest 54-hole tournament score in program history. Senior Abbey Daniel shot in the one spot, followed by senior Levi. Freshman Pellot was set to shoot third, just ahead of freshman Surapa Janthamunee, who notched her fifth team appearance this tournament.
Lopez Ramirez, who was recently added to the ANNIKA Award Watch List, rounded out the lineup. College golfers, coaches and members of the media voted, and the Haskins Foundation presented the award to the most outstanding female collegiate golfer of the year.
Friday’s round featured overall strong play for the Bulldogs. As a team, the ladies shot just two over par (290), finishing the round in a three-way tie for second place.
Daniel started strong on Friday, but during her inward nine, she shot only two holes for par and seven for bogey, which set her behind for the rest of the tournament.
Lopez Ramirez came out playing with something to prove. The sophomore shot seven of her twelve total birdies in the first round, finishing the day in first place with a score of -5.
The 67-stroke performance allowed her to notch her 22nd career round in the 60s. With this, she finished her second regular season just three sub-70 rounds behind all-time Bulldog leader Ally McDonald Ewing.
Day two of the tournament was the cleanest day for MSU, as no individual shot more than two strokes over. As a team, the Bulldogs shot dead even, good for a 4th place ranking after rounds concluded for the day.
Coach Ewing discussed his thoughts on his team’s performance after day two of the tournament.
"Everybody hung in well [and] as a team, we were steady today,” Ewing said. “There were plenty of mistakes out there that leave you feeling frustrated because they feel pretty wasteful, but all in all the golf has been good.”
The third and final day of the tournament saw little change in rankings for the Bulldogs as a team. MSU finished the day two over par, akin to their day one performance, and held on to their fourth-place ranking.
Four out of five Lady Bulldogs finished in the top 40 individual rankings, with the highlight of the group being Lopez Ramirez, who fell to third following a final round score of one under par.
Even though she started the tournament slow, two consecutive days of +2 play allowed Daniel to jump a total of 17 spots in the final individual rankings from where she ended day one.
Mississippi State women’s golf will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, on April 12 to compete in the SEC Championship, where the winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament.
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