No. 7 Texas women’s golf preps for Big 12 Match Play

Jake Hernandez, General Sports Reporter

After winning the Cactus Cup Championship and a top-five performance in the Ping ASU Invitational, the Longhorns will head back to Scottsdale, Arizona, to begin Big 12 match play from April 7–9.

Texas secured the No. 1 seed in its conference and received the highest ranking among Big 12 teams. The Longhorns are no stranger to success when it comes to conference match play, winning the Big 12 championship three straight years from 2017–19 and securing their seventh tournament win last season. Texas has either teed off against or alongside every conference opponent except Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and TCU.

Regardless of which sport it might be, experience can be a major key to victory for any athletic team. Senior Sophie Guo makes efficient use of her veteran status when going toe-to-toe against competition. The senior from Orlando, Florida, has earned several Big 12 honors during her time in Austin and is ranked No. 50 in the nation, according to Golfstat. 

“Definitely after playing the tournaments more, I feel like my mental game might be stronger than others,” Guo said. 

In contrast, this will be a few players’ first time competing in Big 12 match play, including freshman Cindy Hsu. With three top-10 finishes this season — the most among her teammates — Hsu has been a significant contributor to the Longhorns’ success. Even then, Hsu incorporates whatever guidance and advice she receives from her peers into her game. 

“For match play, they tell me (when) you have a birdie, win a hole or lose a hole, don’t react too much,” Hsu said. “If you react too much about losing a hole, they might be like ‘They’re out of mind’ or something. It might be easier for them to win more holes, so just don’t react too much.”

With this upcoming tournament comes a different course, this time at the Kierland Golf Club. Hsu said that the team practices some of the match play with each other, so they can mentally prepare for the different kinds of tournaments. For instance, this course is shorter than usual, so Texas has been practicing a lot of wedges.

Arizona is well known for its dry heat, which could also factor into the tournament. 

“We have to play 36 holes three days in a row,” Hsu said. “We have to keep absorbing water. Obviously, in Arizona, it’s pretty dry.”

Joining the Longhorns in Scottsdale are Oklahoma State’s No. 11 junior Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Iowa State’s No. 13 freshmen Karisa Chul-Ak-Sorn and two top-25 players from Baylor. With a batch of players like this, the Longhorns will surely have their hands full come gametime. 

“I feel like I can win the match if I just play my game,” Guo said. “(I try) not to think about my opponent that much. (If) I just play my game shot by shot, I’ll have a pretty good chance at winning the match.”

Texas’ lineup consists of both Guo and Hsu, freshmen Angela Heo and Emily Odwin and junior Bentley Cotton. Also joining the Longhorns is sophomore Bohyun Park, who just closed out play at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Park was one of 72 players invited to compete and made it through the first two rounds, shooting 73-70 and ranked ninth. One of Park’s greatest achievements during her time in Augusta was recording the first ever hole-in-one in Augusta National Women’s Amateur history. 

“That was awesome,” Hsu said about Park’s ace. “It’s the best tournament to make a hole-in-one. It was amazing. We were all really happy for her.”

Texas will tee off Friday morning against No. 4 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Kansas in pool play. Bracket play starts Saturday afternoon.