Women’s golf looks to reach next level

Cameron Parker

Entering the spring season ranked No. 1 in the country, Texas women’s golf is adamant that the best is ahead of them. After opening their season with a third place finish, the Longhorns won their next three tournaments, but that’s not enough for head coach Ryan Murphy and his players.

“There’s always a next level,” Murphy said. “None of them are finished products, and we’re gonna continue to try to get them to the next level.”

Senior Emilee Hoffman shares the same sentiment as her head coach, with one goal on her mind after last year’s elimination in the NCAA Championship.

“Our main goal is to be number one in the spring and win the National Championship,” Hoffman said. “I think a lot of us are really focused and determined, especially after what happened last year. I feel like we’re all ready to go.”

After breaking the team’s 18-hole and 54-hole record earlier this year, another level and more determination might see every Longhorn record shattered before the season ends. Freshman Sophie Guo, who has already set the program record for lowest individual 18-hole and 54-hole total, can attest to that. 

“This team is definitely the most competitive team we’ve had so far,” Hoffman said. “You want your team to be the best, and you want to be surrounded by the best.”

Texas also returns junior Agathe Laisne, who missed the fall season while recovering from a torn ACL in her right knee. Laise will make her first appearance in a golf tournament in over seven months at this week’s Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes Estates, California.

Laisne, who was named the 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year and was awarded First Team All-America honors by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association and Golfweek, returns to the lineup alongside Guo, Hoffman, Sara Kouskova and Kaitlyn Papp. 

“(Laisne) brings tremendous potential to make us that much better,” Murphy said. 

Her return means that Texas now has eight players attempting to qualify in each tournament for only five starting slots. 

“There’s some serious competition now, and they all know it’s for real,” Murphy said. “If you’re going to qualify you gotta play well. In the end, that’s going to help us.”

Fellow WGCA All-American and the Big 12 Freshman of the Year Hailee Cooper did not qualify for this weekend’s tournament. It will be the first time Cooper failed to qualify in her collegiate career, speaking to the depth the Longhorns now have.

“(Murphy) says we have one of the deepest groups, and we all agree with that,” Cooper said. “We just have to keep pushing and grinding because we want to win the National Championship.”

The Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge is the first of five tournaments leading up to the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA Championships.