Eastern will enjoy three full days on dry, green grass to open 2012 campaign
The Eastern Washington University women's golf team will hit the greens for the first time in 2012 at the second-annual Folino Invitational in Industry Hills, Calif. The 54-hole tournament begins today (Feb. 19) and will run through Tuesday (Feb. 21). The teams will play one round each day on a par 71 course at the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms.
"For the most part, we are using this first tournament for more practice," said EWU head golf coach Brenda Howe, who is in her third year at the helm of the program. "We obviously want to compete well, but just having the opportunity to be on a dry, green golf course will be very beneficial for us."
Eastern is one of 12 collegiate women's golf teams competing at the event, which is hosted by Cal State Fullerton. The Eagles will see a few familiar squads on this trip, including Gonzaga, Seattle and Big Sky foes Montana and Sacramento State.
This season, Eastern will have a small roster of just six players, but Howe is optimistic about the strides a few of her athletes made during the off-season.
"Caitilin [Rice] is hitting the ball much better than she was in the fall," said Howe. "So that is very encouraging for her as a freshman. Jayme [Carbon] has also really started to work out some kinks just in the last week, and I think she'll enter this tournament with a lot more confidence."
Carbon led the team in the fall season, averaging 81.5 strokes per round. At the Circling Raven Collegiate Invitational (Sept. 12-13), Carbon shot a 75 in the first round, followed by a 76 in the third. She finished with a total score of 230 (75-79-76) to place in the top 15.
"I think Jayme will continue to improve her scoring average as the season goes on," said Howe. "She is starting to get more creative around the greens, which she something she and I have struggled with over the years. I've wanted her to explore different shots around the greens, and I'm starting to see a lot of progress now in her short game, especially with her chipping."
Eastern will also look to junior Morgan Lee to help lead the team in 2012. Lee was second on the team in terms of scoring average in the fall, averaging 83.4 strokes over 12 rounds. She led the team at the WSU Cougar Cup (Sept. 19-20) with a three-round total of 237 (82-78-77).
Including Folino, the Eagles will compete in five tournaments leading up to the pinnacle event of the season - the Big Sky Conference Championship, held April 22-24 in Chandler, Ariz.