After a rough first day, Kansas women's golf rallied for an 11th place finish at the Moon Golf Invitational on Monday and Tuesday.
Before the comeback, the tournament didn’t start out how the Jayhawks had hoped as the team finished the day in 14th out of 16 teams competing. Their total score of 594 (18-over-par) was well off the pace set by joint leaders Louisville and Central Florida at 569 each.
Despite the slow team start, junior Sera Tadokoro picked up where she left off in the fall season, shooting 147 over two rounds at the course. Tadokoro finished the day tied for 39th in the competition and was Kansas' highest finisher for the day.
Senior Chomchana Phuchanbanchob started the day off strong as well, shooting a 71 in her first round to go one-under-par. In her second round, however, a run of four bogeys and a double bogey on the front nine resulted in an overall score of 80, the worst round of the year for Phuchanbanchob.
Phuchanbanchob’s issues on the greens highlighted a team weakness in day one of the Moon Golf Invitational.
“Overall, we hit the ball well but our putting and our mental game is where we gave shots away,” Kansas coach Erin O'Neil said, according to a Kansas Athletics press release.
Indeed, the teams putting was a major concern on the first day of competition. Kansas led the 16-team field in holes parred (122 total holes), but with inconsistent putting and an overall rough day on the greens, the team was unable to make a run toward the top of the leaderboard.
Kansas’ only Big 12 rivals in the competition, Oklahoma, finished the first day in fourth, giving the team insight into how they might play come the Big 12 championships.
Nevertheless, day two at the Moon Golf Invitational was a stark improvement for Kansas. As a team, the Jayhawks shot a 286 in their final round, their best of the two-day tournament. The low scores helped boost the team to an 11th overall finish, three spots above their day one finish.
The day was highlighted by below-par performances from senior Ariadna Fonseca Diaz and junior Yi-Tsen Chou and the overall 13 stroke improvement from rounds one and two.
The team also continued an amazing run of holes parred, finishing second in the category with a total of 188 holes. This is an amazing 69.63 percent of holes parred that was topped only by Texas A&M.
“We were very pleased with how we played today," O'Neil said, according to a Kansas Athletics press release. “Today was definitely more in line with how we are capable of performing - we made twice as many birdies in the final round compared to our 36 hole total the day before and we played our par 5's under par.”
Tadokoro, who was the team leader the day before, continued her strong play on Tuesday, finishing at even par. The team as a whole was more comfortable on the second day — the lowest round total for the day was just 73 (plus-1).
Despite the strong performance on Tuesday, the Jayhawks still finished the invitational at 16-over-par, far from their best golf. Going into the spring season, the Moon Golf Invitational proved that there is still work to be done.
Kansas women's golf will next compete at the Briar's Creek Invitational in South Carolina on Monday, March 18.