POSTED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 4:12pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 8:23pm
Buoyed by shooting a 293 over the final 18 holes, the UTEP women’s golf team won its first tournament of the 2011-12 season, taking the championship of the UALR Classic on Tuesday in Little Rock, Ark.
The Miners broke 900 for the second time this season to edge out runner-up Tulsa by one stroke. UTEP finished with a 54-hole tally of 897 (304-300-293) to the Golden Hurricane’s 898 (297-303-298). Middle Tennessee State (299-302-298-899) and Eastern Michigan (302-305-292-899) tied for third place at the tournament, which featured 19 teams.
UTEP won its 10th tournament title under coach Jere Pelletier and first since claiming the Conference USA Championship last April in Texarkana, Texas.
The Miners received typically solid scores from seniors Shang-Fan Huang and Teresa Nogués, who tied for seventh place with a five-over-par 221. Huang posted rounds of 74-74-73 and Nogués finished with 77-73-71.
The key for the Miners, however, was the play of freshmen Camino Sardinero and Nathalie Castillo, who both landed in the top-40 of the individual standings. Sardinero fired 77-77-73-227 (tied for 30th place) and Castillo shot 76-76-76-228 (tied for 34th place).
“My two seniors have been playing steady all year and the difference was our two freshmen stepped up and played like I thought they knew how to play,” Pelletier said.
While Sardinero has put together a consistently good freshman campaign, Castillo shaved six strokes off her previous college-low score of 234.
“Nathalie has worked on her game. She’s always hit the ball pretty well, but her short game has been lacking,” Pelletier said. “She has improved with time and it’s starting to show. With more experience, I think both she and Camino are going to play even better.”
UTEP’s 293 on Tuesday tied its low round this season.
“It just gives our girls a lot of confidence that they can play better,” Pelletier said. “We have to keep practicing and working hard and they’ll have a chance to win the championship again.”
The Miners will play in the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic April 9-11 in Chandler, Ariz. before defending their C-USA crown April 23-25 in Gulf Shores, Ala.