Young Jayhawks Face First Test at Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas’ women’s golf will tee off the year at the 19th Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational in Manhattan, Kansas at Colbert Hills Golf Course Sept. 7-8. The Jayhawks are participating in the Folds of Honor Military Tribute Program in 2015-16 with a different member of the KU team carrying a special Folds of Honor golf bag at each event.
Kansas and Kansas State have shared hosting duties for the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational since 2003, alternating between the two schools every year. Kansas finished second to Kansas State by six strokes last year at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, breaking a run of two-consecutive KU Marilynn Smith victories. However, a Jayhawk has brought home the individual title each of the past two years, with Meghan Potee shooting 224 (+8) in 2013 at Colbert Hills and Pornvipa Sakdee shooting 216 (E) last year.
Founded in 2007 by Major Dan Rooney, a former KU men’s golfer and F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma National Guard, the Folds of Honor has raised $70 million for families of deceased or disabled veterans and expects to raise $13 million more just this fall. Kansas freshman Laine Evans will carry Folds of Honor golf bag in Manhattan. At the end of the year the bag will be auctioned off and the proceeds will benefit the Katzenberger family of Parkville, Missouri. Staff Sargent Jeremy Katzenberger died serving his country in 2011 and is survived by his wife Colleen and son Everett. Through the Folds of Honor organization, Mrs. Katzenberger was able to receive a scholarship and pursue her goal of becoming a teacher.
“Our golf coaches’ association promotes it and encourages teams to support the organization,” KU 12th-year head coach Erin O’Neil said of being a part of the Folds of Honor program. “It was also founded by Dan Rooney, who played golf here at KU. It seemed like a no-brainer to support one of our alumni for such a noble cause that gives back to military families.”
“As a Jayhawk, it warms my heart to see it taking shape in Kansas,” Major Rooney said. “One reason why I’m so passionate about the program is that it helps the next generation, the millennials; understand that great sacrifices have been made.”
KU senior Yupaporn Kawinpakorn will be the only upperclassman competing for the Jayhawks at the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational. The two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection brings a wealth of experience, having competed in her second NCAA Regional last season after averaging a school-record 73.35 strokes per round. Kawinpakorn will be joined by sophomores Kallie Gonzales, MacKenzie Sexe and Pitsinee Winyarat and freshman Ari Fonseca Diaz in the KU lineup. Evans and fellow freshman Victoria Chandra will compete as individuals in the event.
“We have a young group this year, a very talented group,” O’Neil said. “We are going to have some ups and downs but we are just going to focus on taking it one shot at a time. Just focus on what we can control. We can certainly go out there and win it.”
The event honors Marilynn Smith, 86, a former KU golfer who is one of the original 13 founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 1950 and is still active in the promotion of women’s golf. Smith, who lives in Texas, won 22 times on the LPGA tour, including the 1963 Titleholders, one of the major women’s events at the time, in an 18-hole playoff over Mickey Wright. Before creating the LPGA tour, Smith won the Kansas Women’s Amateur Championship three times (1946-47-48). She arrived on the Kansas golf scene from Wichita. Her two-year career at KU was highlighted by a 1949 National Collegiate Individual title. Following the title, Smith accepted an offer from Spaulding to turn pro at $5,000 a year. From 1954-72, she won at least one tour event in 14 of 19 years.
The Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational will begin Monday, Sept. 7, with 36 holes and concluding with 18 holes on Sept. 8. Both days will begin shotgun starts, Monday at 8:30 a.m. and Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. For the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational, Colbert Hills Golf Course will measure 6,243-yards with a par of 72. Kansas will compete in a field consisting of Arkansas-Little Rock, Central Arkansas, Florida Gulf Coast, Kansas State, Middle Tennessee, Missouri, Nebraska, Redlands Community College, SMU, Stephen F. Austin and TCU. Live scoring can be found at Golfstat.com.
This Labor Day Weekend will also be Folds of Honor’s Patriot Golf Day. Additional opportunities to donate to the organization can be found at foldsofhonor.org.
Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational Results
Year – Course – Team Winner – Individual Medalist
1994 – Prairie Dunes Country Club (Hutchinson) – Oklahoma State – Stacy Kolb, Texas Tech
1995 – Crestview Country Club (Wichita) – SMU – Jennifer Hubbard, SMU
1996 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Texas A&M – Rachelle Tacha, Nebraska
1997 – Terradyne Country Club (Andover) – Kansas – Jamie Tucker, Kansas
1998 – no event
1999 – no event
2000 – no event
2001 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Oklahoma – Julie Hary, Northern Iowa
2002 – Willowbend Golf Club (Wichita) – Kansas State – Randi Gauthier, North Texas
2003 – Colbert Hills Golf Club (Manhattan) – Kansas State – Samantha Richdale, Illinois State
2004 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Kansas – Liz Bennett, Iowa
2005 – Colbert Hills Golf Club (Manhattan) – TCU – Helene Robert, Kansas State
2006 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Kansas – Anita Ojeda, UALR
2007 – Colbert Hills Golf Club (Manhattan) – Kansas – Julia Potter, Missouri
2008 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Oral Roberts – Jennifer Clark, Kansas
2009 – Colbert Hills Golf Club (Manhattan) – Tulsa – Kelli Shean, Arkansas
2010 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Kansas – Grace Thiry, Kansas
2011 – Colbert Hills Golf Club (Manhattan) – UALR – Malin Lundberg, UALR
2012 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Kansas – Abigail Laker, Arkansas State
2013 – Colbert Hills Golf Club (Manhattan) – Kansas – Meghan Potee, Kansas
2014 – Alvamar Golf Club (Lawrence) – Kansas State – Pornvipa Sakdee, Kansas
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