Women’s Golf Starts Season At Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invite
BOULDER — After a few weeks of preparation, the University of Colorado women's golf team will officially get their season started on Monday, September 13, at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.
The 54-hole tournament, hosted by New Mexico, will have two rounds played on the first day. The final round will be contested on Tuesday, September 14, at the 6,317-yard, par-72 UNM Championship Course.
The Buffaloes have a history of playing in this tournament. This will be the fourth time in six years CU heads south for the event which will have the Buffs up against BYU, California, Colorado State, Denver, Fresno State, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, San Jose State, Texas State and UNLV.
"It's a very good field and New Mexico will be hosting a regional this spring," Colorado coach Anne Kelly said. "We don't know if we'll get sent there or not, but it's good experience playing that course. I think it's a course that will suit our games well and be able to get off to a good start this fall."
Being able to play this fall is a relief for many as last fall Colorado had to sit on the sidelines as the Pac-12 Conference had decided to not compete during the 2020 fall.
"It's nice to finally get some kind of normal routine going and having a tournament to work for makes a big difference," Kelly said.
This year's roster has some great experience despite the last two seasons being cut short. Malak Bouraeda's only full season was her freshman year and now she is starting her fourth year with the Buffaloes. Last spring as a junior, she led the team with a 74.05 stroke average and was selected to advance to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional as an individual. Although the regional ended up canceled due to weather, the fact she was selected was a big honor. She is definitely going to be one of the leaders on the team for the 2021-22 season.
"The thing about Malak is that she is a real fighter," Kelly said. "Every round she gives it her all no matter what. She is stepping into a leadership role. She's always been that type of person since day one. You can always depend on Malak to give it her all every single round."
Alisha Lau is another senior who will look to lead the team with Bouraeda. The duo could get some help in the leadership department from graduate transfer Diane Baillieux, who joined the team this fall from Baylor.
"It's been really nice to have a grad transfer like Diane," said Kelly. "She brings a lot of personality to the team. She's also very competitive and a fighter. She's been a great addition."
While Kelly has only been around the team for a few weeks, she can tell they have been putting in work. One in particular that came to mind was Ellie Gower, who recorded a runner-up finish at the English Women's Open the weekend before returning to Boulder to start classes for the fall semester.
"Ellie has continued to work hard," Kelly said. "She has made a ton of improvements since she joined our team, gaining a lot of length, especially and working very hard on her short game."
But a team can't grow if there is no incoming young talent and this year Kelly added one freshman in Natalie Vo.
"A nice surprise has been Natalie Vo," Kelly said. "She's was a late add for us and a good player that kind of got lost in the whole Covid recruiting situation. We feel so fortunate to have her on our team; she played very solid in our qualifying and earned a spot to play on the team."
The Buffs also return Hailey Schalk. This past summer, she tied for 10th at the Colorado Open and placed third at the CGA Women's Stroke Play before qualifying for the U.S. Women's Amateur with teammate Issy Simpson. Lauren Gooding redshirted last season and is ready to start her CU career.
"Hailey made a big jump last spring in the tournaments we did get to play," said Kelly. "She got better and better as the year went on. She has worked hard on her game and she is a very solid player. All of the players on our team are competitors and are working hard. It's nice to see that."
With the season about to being, there is a lot to look forward to for the Buffs this year. Being able to play in the fall, returning a core from last year's line-up, adding some great talent and just being able to do what they love to do – play golf.
"I think we have a great group of women on our team," Kelly said. "I am excited and I'm looking forward to getting the year going."