After finishing in seventh place last weekend at the Branch Law Firm Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Iowa women’s golf team is on the road again, this time to Knoxville, Tennessee, today through Sept. 19.
The Hawkeyes will competing in the Mercedes Benz Women’s Collegiate Championship for the first time in program history.
The field is made up of 15 teams, including six top-45 teams: No. 45 SMU, No. 33 Illinois, No. 32 BYU, No. 30 Tennessee, No. 26 N.C. State, and No. 14 Wake Forest.
“It’s awesome for us to play ranked teams week in and week out,” head coach Megan Menzel said. “I think we belong there, and it’s just a matter of them believing that. They showed last week they can go out and compete with the best.”
The tournament takes place at the Cherokee Country Club, the oldest golf course in Knoxville. The Donald Ross style course covers 5,897 yards and is par-71.
“[The Cherokee Country Club is] more traditional and [has] a treeline,” Menzel said. “We just came from the desert, so it’ll be a little different.”
Senior Jessica Ip will be the No. 1 golfer in this weekend’s lineup, followed by junior Shawn Rennegarbe, senior Elisa Suarez, junior Kristin Glesne, and senior Morgan Kukla.
Even with the impressive result from last week’s tournament, the Hawkeyes believe there’s still room to grow from last week’s performance.
“I think we have a really good team dynamic right now,” Glesne said. “Everybody had a least one good round this week, and I think it’ll be exciting to see how we play when we’re all playing well.”
Glesne shot a career-best 36-score of 143 (minus-1), which ties for sixth in program history, last week and also had an 18 hole career-low score of 70 (minus-2).
“Staying present is a big thing for me,” she said. “I played really well the first day, and kind of got ahead of myself the second day and left a lot of strokes out there. So I think putting two days together that are good would be very exciting for me.”
In Albuquerque, the Hawkeyes finished behind six top-35 ranked teams but outshot four top-50 teams, including No. 18 Texas and No. 16 Arizona.
“We came out really strong in the first two rounds,” Kukla said. “That’s something that’s a little different from last year; our first round wasn’t the greatest. That’s a really big improvement for us. Now, we need to just come up with the third round being strong as well, but we finished pretty high against really good teams, and we’re ready to compete against top competition again this week.”
The first round and second round will start on today at 7:30 a.m., and the third round is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Sept. 19.
“If we just bring the same confidence we did last week into the last one, I think we will finish even higher than we did the last one,” Kukla said.