The Texas women’s golf team finished last in its first ever East Lake Cup Invitational in Atlanta this week after a strong second-place performance in the Betsy Rawls Invitational. The squad failed to win an event this fall and now hopes to capture a fourth consecutive Big 12 championship in the spring.
“This is an incredible tournament … it's well earned,” head coach Ryan Murphy said after day one of the East Lake Cup. “You have to have had a great season the previous year, and we're happy to be here. It's an honor to be here, it's a privilege, and although today was not our day, this has been a first-class event.”
Murphy said the East Lake Golf Club is difficult to play on, and the light rainfall Wednesday made the final day more challenging for a Texas lineup that featured two freshmen.
Although the lineup featuring senior Kaitlyn Papp, junior Hailee Cooper, sophomore Sophie Guo and freshmen Bentley Cooper and Ashley Park finished last behind Ole Miss, South Carolina and Florida, Murphy views this week as a learning experience and a chance to prepare for the spring championships.
“Well, people say you learn the most through your mistakes,” Murphy said. “We have learned a lot this week because we made a lot of mistakes … We will be a little bit reloaded in the spring. A couple of my players are still in Europe. But, yeah, I learned some things about my players that we'll go back and work on when we get back home.”
On day one, the team shot thirteen-over-par behind Guo’s impressive one-under-par finish to set the Longhorns against No. 1 Ole Miss. The squad lost 4-0-1 to the Rebels on day two.
Florida defeated Texas 4-0-1 to take third overall in the consolation round.
The reigning SEC champion Rebels dominated all week behind co-medalist Kennedy Swann, who one-upped Guo in the semifinals. Guo was matched with Swann after that one-under-par and top-three performance on day one.
“Hats off to Ole Miss,” Murphy said. “They played some fantastic golf today, there's no doubt about it. They had a great back nine with a couple of those matches (and) made more putts than we did. I feel like it really came down to that. They made a lot more putts than we did through the round, and it ended up getting us today obviously.”
With the conclusion of the fall events, the younger players will look to carry over their new poise on the course to the spring season. The team will only become more experienced as European seniors Agatha Laisne and junior Sara Kouskova ease back into playing with the Longhorns in the United States.