Golf: 'Eaters possess depth

There might be only one senior, but depth is what Coach Julie Brooks is talking about on this year's UC Irvine women's golf team.

With the first competition (the Cougar Cup) in the books, Brooks said the competition for lineup spots is stern, with one stroke separating who makes the trip.

"The level of depth is exciting," said Brooks, in her seventh season at UCI. "They are a talented group."

In addition to senior Michelle Park, UCI has three juniors, two sophomores and one freshman.

Park returns after earning second-team All-Big West Conference honors last year. Juniors Ronnie Valerio, Sara Banke and Taryn Yee join Park and sophomores Brenna Carlson and Michelle Yang. Yang was a first-team all-conference selection last season.

Freshman Luciane Lee led UCI by finishing 21st (76-74-76 — 226) in the Cougar Cup in her college debut. Yang tied for 22nd (76-75-76 — 227) while Park tied for 27th (80-74-74 — 228).

Lee comes from Torrance High, where she helped the Tartars win their third straight CIF Southern Section team divisional in 2011. She picked up where she left off last fall in the Cougar Cup, hosted by Washington State. The tournament, Brooks said, was a good indicator of where the team stands.

"The greens were faster than what we practice on," she said. "But I'm happy with the way [UCI players] hit tee-to-green."

The Anteaters rotate practice at three courses: Strawberry Farms Golf Club, Oak Creek Golf Club and Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club.

The Anteaters placed sixth among 14 teams in the Cougar Cup and began competing in the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational on Monday. The event, at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle continues through Wednesday . Sahalee hosted the 1998 PGA Championship.

UCI will play in the Rainbow Wahine Invitational at Leileihua Golf Club in Honolulu Oct. 30 and 31 to close out the fall season. Brooks said the girls are eager to go to Hawaii, so the competition could intensify for spots for that tournament.

UCI opens the spring season at the Long Beach State Gold Rush tournament Feb. 10 through 12 at Yorba Linda Country Club.

As for now, the focus is on Sahalee. UCI's competition includes host Washington, Long Beach State, San Diego State, Gonzaga, Oregon and Oregon State.

"It's upscale," Brooks said of Sahalee. "You can't wear jeans and have to take your hat off in certain places. I'm honored to be invited."

Brooks has been to Sahalee, when she was a volunteer assistant at Cal. She wanted to keep information about the course at a minimum as to not elicit worry from the players.

"I'll tell them to pick smaller targets," Brooks said.

One target all the girls will be shooting for no matter the week is a spot in this year's lineup.

Former Anteater Lalita Patipaksiri will tee off Tuesday in the second stage of LPGA qualifying at the Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla. The first-team all-conference honoree last season will be one of 216 players vying for 70 or more berths into the field for the final qualifying stage in November.

For the second stage, golfers will play 72 holes of stroke play with no cut. The top 70 and ties move on to the final qualifying stage Nov. 28 through Dec. 2 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Patipaksiri won the Long Beach Women's City Championship in June.

Bryce Alderton is the golf writer for the Daily Pilot. He may be reached at

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