By: Shane Petagna
The University of Tampa women’s golf team traveled to Hawaii from Monday, Oct. 25 to Wednesday, Oct. 27 to play in the Rainbow Wahine Invitational. Competing against eight other Division I teams, the Spartans finished in seventh place.
This tournament wrapped up a successful fall season for Tampa. Before the Rainbow Wahine Invitational, the Spartans played in the Dallas Baptist University Women’s Classic in Denton, TX, and finished 10th out of 19 teams.
Four weeks later, the team finished first overall in the Saint Leo Invitational in Dade City, FL. In that tournament, graduating seniors Laila Forstmane and freshman Ana Maria Jimenez tied for second place overall against the entire field.
“It was an amazing experience being able to qualify and to go to Hawaii in my first fall season,” said Jimenez. “The golf course was really hard, but it was beautiful.”
The elements of the course and the structure of the tournament affected the Spartans. The competition consisted of only Division I teams besides Tampa, which meant the yardage of the holes was further than some of the players were used to. The trip to Hawaii is also the furthest the team has traveled for a tournament under head coach Missey Jones.
The Spartans, ranked 14th in the Division II Mizuno WGCA Coaches Poll, had two top-25 finishes overall from junior Emily Montagnino and sophomore Emilie Bjorge. Montagnino tied for 19th, and Bjorge tied for 23rd.
Montagnino shot a 74 and 76 in the first two rounds before finishing par for the course with a score of 72 on the final day. She finished six shots over par for the tournament. Bjorge shot a 74, 76, and 77 to finish 11 over par. The Spartans also placed better than two Division I teams in Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield.
“The competition was really good because they were all Division I schools,” said Jones. “I’m proud of the girls, but I know our scores are going to come down in future events.”
The team had fun off the course too, doing almost everything as a team. They went hiking, snorkeling, surfing, and even went to a luau. The team also enjoyed driving around Hawaii and taking in the scenery.
“I think it was a wonderful experience to try new things and spend that much time together,” said Jones.
The Spartans have returned home for the offseason. Tampa will open its spring season from Feb. 6-8 at the World Golf Invitational in St. Augustine, FL.
“I am very excited for spring season to start because we have lots of tournaments to compete in,” said Noelia Adkins, a freshman on the team. “Our team is strong and will be more prepared by then.”
The spring season has four tournaments scheduled. These include the World Golf Invitational, the SSC Championships, which will take place in the last week of April, and lastly, the NCAA South Super Regional and NCAA Championships that will take place in May and last until the end of the season.