Iowa women’s golfer Paula Miranda ends successful fall season

The freshman from Puebla, Mexico, led the Hawkeyes with a 73.7 18-hole stroke average.


Gabby Drees

Paula Miranda practices her putt at Finkbine Golf Course on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s golf head coach Megan Menzel didn’t have much of a chance to see freshman Paula Miranda play in person during the recruiting process.

COVID-19 restrictions prevented Menzel from traveling down to Puebla, Mexico, to see Miranda and her golf game.

But when Menzel watched Miranda advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship this summer as the No. 44 seed, the Hawkeye coach knew she’d landed a special player.

In Miranda’s semifinal match, she took eventual champion Rose Zhang to 20 holes before Miranda bogied the second extra hole to be eliminated.

“I only saw very little in the recruiting process, just because of COVID and what was going on,” Menzel said. “But I don’t know, I just saw her march around that golf course, you know, for the U.S. Junior Girls and you can just tell when the lights turn on, I mean, she’s just that kind of player.”

Menzel didn’t quite know what to expect in Miranda’s first fall with the Hawkeyes, or how long it might take her to adjust to the college game.

Those questions still lingered as the fall season approached. Miranda arrived on campus late after encountering visa issues and quarantining after coming to Iowa City from Mexico.

Miranda took her first steps on the UI campus a couple days before Iowa’s first fall event, but she led the Hawkeyes in the Dick McGuire Invitational Sept. 13-14, finishing in a tie for 32nd.

Then, the newest Hawkeye had time to get a little more comfortable in Iowa City. And her on-course results continued to improve.

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Miranda tallied a tie for 20th in her second collegiate event at the Badger Invitational Sept. 18-21. She was tied for the lead after the first round, posting a 5-under-par 67. But the Hawkeye freshman said she let the pressure get to her, playing her final 36 holes in 11-over-par.

“I think I put a lot of pressure on me,” Miranda said after the event. “I was first at that tournament. I wanted to shoot the same score the next two days. I would get mad if I missed a shot. It was just — it was in my mind.”

The next time out at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate on Oct. 8-10, Miranda wouldn’t fade down the stretch. Instead, she charged.

Two even-par rounds positioned Miranda in the top half of the leaderboard heading into the final day of competition. In the third round, Miranda fired off five birdies that shot her into a tie for second place. She earned Big Ten Women’s Golfer of the Week honors following the event on Oct. 13.

Miranda said her experience in contention at the Badger Invitational aided her strong finish at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate.

“I learned a lot from that experience,” Miranda said. “I played more focused. I built a good strategy for myself. I tried to get myself more calm in the situation and I think it paid off.”

After seeing how Miranda handles herself both on and off the golf course, Menzel isn’t shocked by the freshman’s strong start.

“I’m really kind of not surprised,” Menzel said. “I think that she’s got a great golf demeanor. She has a great outlook about golf. You know, to be honest, she’s just pretty laid back, but yet feisty. So, it’s just kind of a good balance.”

Miranda ended the fall with a tie for 31st at the White Sands Invitational in the Bahamas.

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