IU women’s golf opens season at Ptarmigan Ram Classic

The IU women’s golf team opened the 2016-17 season at the Ptarmigan Ram Classic in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Monday, and in the first two rounds shot a team score of 600.

The score has the Hoosiers at 24-over-par and tied for seventh place in the 15-team tournament, hosted by Colorado State at the Ptarmigan Country Club.

This is IU’s first appearance in the tournament.

Junior Alix Kong shot a team-low 145(+1) on the day and senior Ana Sanjuan shot a 147(+3) to lead IU.

The Hoosiers looked strong in the first round, shooting a team score of 296(+8). Kong shot a 71(-1) to lead IU to third place after 18 holes. The Hoosiers shot a 304(+16) in the second round, again led by Kong with a 74(+2).

Freshman Elisa Pierre made her tournament debut for the Hoosiers, as she shot a 156(+12) for the day. Pierre was one of only six freshmen to be on the list of preseason Big Ten honorees.

San Jose State leads the tournament with a total team score of 572(-4). Nevada is 16 strokes behind at 588(+12) and Gonzaga is in third at 589(+13). The final round of the tournament will tee off at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday EST.

Prior to the tournament, IU Coach Clint Wallman said he wanted the team to focus on the present and make manageable goals as the season gets under way.

“We want to make really good decisions,” he said. “We want to play the best percentages that we can, we want to be prepared and be very committed to our shots and our game plan.”

Sophomore Erin Harper, the Hoosiers’ top returning player, was a preseason Big Ten honoree and set a new IU record for scoring average by a freshman last season. Before the tournament, she said she doesn’t feel any pressure as the new season begins.

“It’s more like an honor,” Harper said. “You just want to build off of that and get better as you go. I’m going to take last season and put it in the books as, ‘I did really well but now I want to get even better.’”

Sanjuan, also a preseason Big Ten women’s golf honoree, said prior to the competition the team must play with the same focus this season that it had when it was fighting to qualify for the postseason at the end of last year.

“I think it’s really important to play well in order to have the confidence for the rest of the season,” she said. “I think in order to make it into the postseason we have to go step-by-step, every step matters. This tournament matters the same as the Big Ten tournament.”

While Sanjuan was focused on the tournament ahead, she said she has a different goal in mind as her senior season begins and her college career draws to a close.

“I want to leave a mark on this team,” she said. “I want to leave with my teammates thinking, ‘Yeah, Ana was a great teammate,’ and that is what I want to do this year.”

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