Longhorns finish fall session with strong showing in Mexico

Cameron Parker

Wrapping up its fall season in the Battle at the Beach tournament in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the Texas women’s golf team fought through tough, sunny conditions and warm beaches to finish third overall.

In their first tournament appearance since winning the Betsy Rawls Invitational, the Longhorns finished at 13 over par, 20 shots behind the winner, Auburn.

“The good thing about this week is that we played better each day of the event,” head coach Ryan Murphy said after the tournament. “It was a very good effort from the team today.”

Kaitlyn Papp led the team with a one-over-par performance, rebounding from a tough round Saturday with a 68 on Sunday to vault herself inside the top 10.

Hailee Cooper finished the first round one stroke off the lead at one under, but suffered back-to-back rounds over par to finish at three over. Cooper’s rounds of 72 and 74 mark the first time the freshmen has recorded a round over par in short college career at Texas.

“It was a terrific fall for (Cooper’s) first semester at Texas — 1st, 5th, 12th and 18th in her four appearances. Heavy stuff for a freshman,” Murphy said.

In all four of the Longhorns’ tournaments, either Cooper or Papp have led the team in individual stroke play with that trend continuing following the Battle at the Beach. While the strong play for underclassmen might surprise others, it comes as no shock to Murphy.

“(Papp) played well again here in Cabo and just continues to collect top 10s,” Murphy said. “Her consistently good play is fun to watch. The same thing goes for Hailee.”

While the Longhorns recorded decent individual performances overall, no player finished under par for the first time all year. Following the first round, Texas sat only five shots behind Auburn in second place with three players inside the top five, but that number dropped to one after Saturday and finally to zero after Sunday’s final round.

“We did not fire on all cylinders at the start and just did not get it going this week, but that happens in golf,” Murphy said.

Playing in a field alongside five other ranked teams, including No. 5 Vanderbilt and No. 9 Virginia, only Auburn finished the tournament with a score under par in what was otherwise an event featuring few low-scoring finishes.

Greta Isabella Voelker got her second straight start and had a solid outing, finishing tied for 19th along with teammate Agathe Laisne. Both ended the tournament at six over par.

An adamant Murphy had a strong prediction for both Voelker and Laisne: “There is a next level for both Agathe and Greta, and I believe we will see it this spring.”

Maddie Luitwieler, competing individually, finished her second event of the year at 10 over par.

Heading into their offseason, the Longhorns have yet to record a finish outside the top five in any tournament, a big reason why Texas is ranked fourth nationally, according to Golfweek.

“Our goal is to win the national championship,” Murphy said. “And we’re capable of doing that. That’s what I really like about this team — they bring a lot of positive energy, the team chemistry is fantastic and they believe in themselves.”

Texas now has a three-month break ahead of them before the spring season kicks off in Palos Verdes Estates, California at the Northrop Grumman Intercollegiate in February.