Jayhawks Return to Marilynn Smith Invitational

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas women’s golf team will travel to Manhattan, Kansas to compete in the Marilynn Smith Invitational September 17-19. Due to construction at The Jayhawk Club, formerly the Alvamar Country Club, there was no event in 2016. However, the Jayhawks will return to Colbert Hills with experience as four players previously played the course in 2015. 
“I think it’ll definitely help to have a little course knowledge going into it,” said head coach Erin O’Neil. “Hopefully, it’ll give them more confidence and be able to commit to shots better to be able to execute things that they need to. It’s always good to have some past experience going into a course.
“It is kind of a link style course with lots of long maize grass and kind of big greens. You have to be in the right part of the greens. You have to keep it in the fairway. It has lots of bunkers, so that’ll be important for us. But, I think it’s a good course for us.”
In the 2015 event held at Colbert Hills, senior Pitsinee Winyarat finished 18-over in a tie for 36th. Winyarat is coming off a team-best performance at the Minnesota Invitational where she led Kansas in scoring and shot 2-under for the final round. Winyarat will be competing for the Jayhawks at the Marilynn Smith Invitational in the first position.
Chomchana Phuchanbanchob played as an individual at the Minnesota Invitational but managed to shoot consistently throughout the tournament, finishing in a tie for 44th with fellow Jayhawk Yi-Tsen Chou. Phuchanbanchob will follow Winyarat in the lineup at the second position, with Chou in the third.
“Cake (Phuchanbanchob) has been working on making a swing change since she got (to Kansas) last spring and I think we are finally starting to see it,” said O’Neil. “You get it on the range first and it takes longer for that to show up in competition but we are seeing that now. So, I’m very encouraged by that and I think she is too, to see that she can execute it in the tournament. I think last week was big for her confidence to do that in a tournament. I know she’s excited to play this week.”
Freshman Sera Tadokoro will be in the fourth position after shooting par in her first round at the Minnesota Invitational, a feat that has not been accomplished by a true freshman since 2003 by Kansas’ Amanda Costner, who would go on to win the 2006 Big 12 Championship and be a two time First-Team All-Big 12 selection.
Rounding out the lineup for the Jayhawks will be Ariadna Fonseca Diaz, who tied for 24th at the Marilynn Smith Invitational two years ago at Colbert Hills.
“I’m hoping that we see Ari play simpler,” said O’Neil. “She’s very analytical, and that’s good in a lot of ways, but it can also get in your way as an athlete. So, I want to see her play. Play the course, play with what she has for that day and make it work and keep it simple. She’s been working really hard on her game and she just needs to trust that preparation.”
Senior Kallie Gonzales and junior Victoria Chandra will also compete in the event as individuals. Both have previously competed in the Marilynn Smith Invitational at Colbert Hills and look to bring in some experience and knowledge when playing the familiar course. This will be Chandra’s first competition of the season.
The Jayhawks will compete against fellow Big 12 rival Kansas State, Arkansas State, Florida International, Central Arkansas, Georgia Southern, North Texas, Arkansas Little-Rock and Rutgers. The Jayhawks competed against Kansas State and North Texas last week in Minnesota.  
“We need to make good decisions and when we get in trouble don’t try to take high risk chances,” O’Neil said. “Keep it at bogey or better. Keep it simple and committing to our game plan.”
This is the 21st installment of the event, which ran annually from 2000-15 and first began in 1994. Round one of the three-day event will start at 8 a.m., on September 17 and conclude with the final round on September 19. Live scoring updates will be available at Golfstat.com.

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