UW’s women’s golf team, ranked 13th in the country according to the GolfWorld/WGCA coaches’ poll, are back after winning the Topy Cup by a whopping 50 strokes – then devouring sushi, ramen and the Tokyo scene.
By Monica Lee
SEATTLE -- The Washington women’s golf team’s tee-off to the 2013-14 season was “as good as it gets,” according to head coach Mary Lou Mulflur.
After all, it’s not every year the team wins a tournament by fifty strokes.
The Husky women not only won the highly competitive Topy Cup Sept. 10-12 at the Tanagura Country Club in Fukushima, Japan, for the first time, they broke numerous scoring records -- and had a great time doing it.
“It meant a lot for us to win the tournament first of all,” junior SooBin Kim said.
“It was just amazing. We played well. We scored well. We felt good.”
The Huskies are currently ranked 13th in the GolfWorld/WGCA coaches’ poll and No. 1 in the GolfStat relative rankings of NCAA teams. They are preparing for their next tournament, the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational they are hosting Oct. 8-9 in Redmond, Wash.
In Japan, they set a tournament record of 24-under par 840 to win the Topy Cup. They beat second-place Oregon State University and three Japanese schools by a whopping 50-stroke margin, another tournament record. Then they enjoyed sushi, ramen and Tokyo’s shopping and street scenes.
“We shot six-under, ten-under, eight-under,” Mulflur said. “That’s what you want to be doing. That’s as good as it gets, so obviously putting up numbers like that is pretty fun.
“That’s why you play.”
The three-day total of 840 was the lowest in Washington women’s golf history. The previous record of 850 was shot at the Stanford Intercollegiate Tournament in 2003.
Junior Jennifer Yang was among those impressed.
“I honestly think it’s a big deal, especially because it’s not a small tournament,” she said.
“It was our first international trip and we won this one, so we are really proud of ourselves.”
This is the second time Mulflur has traveled to the two-decades-old Topy Cup in her 31 years as the Husky head coach. In 2005, Washington shot 913 to place second to Tohoku Fukushi University of Japan.
“Before, we beat the U.S. team, but we lost to one of the Japanese teams,” Mulflur said. “So it was fun for me to go back and actually win it.”
Mulflur and her team also had fun in a rare chance to traveling with the men’s golf team, which also played in the Topy Cup.
“We never travel together. It’s the only time we’ve ever traveled together,” said Mulflur. “It’s a unique opportunity and we were glad to take advantage of it.”
Thursday night, after the three-day tournament concluded, the teams returned to Tokyo for a day of sightseeing and exploring led by the men’s worldly team coach, Matt Thurmond. Thurmond has been to the Topy Cup several times.
“That was super fun. That was the most fun part of this,” Yang said. “This was our first time travelling and playing on the same course as the guys and we got a lot closer.”
On Friday, Sept 13, the Husky golfers visited the Tokyo Skytree in Sumida, in the northeast part of the city; Ginza, a district of the Chuo section of Tokyo; and Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo’s famous electronics district.
The teams were also able to support one another on the course.
“They went out after us most days so we went out and watched them every day, which was cool,” sophomore Charlotte Thomas said.
“They had a solid week too so it was cool to have them there with us, supporting each other.”
Thomas, from Surrey, England, did far more than just enjoy hanging with the guys’ team and the sightseeing. She earned individual medalist honors, beating teammate Kim by one stroke. Kim scored a 6-under 210 on the Tanagura Densha Country Club course. Yang and Ying Luo tied fourth place with scores of 4-under 212. Junior Cyd Okino placed ninth with a 3-over 219.
“Our team worked really well together,” Kim said. “Like when somebody else shot bad, someone else came in under par.
“I thought that was the most meaningful for us because this is a team sport.”
The Dawgs enjoyed playing as a team and meeting Japanese teams.
“All the Japanese players were really nice and they’re all friendly,” Yang said. “They didn’t speak English very well, but it was fun playing together and I really enjoyed it.”
Thomas agreed the cultural experience was as good as the golf one.
“It was really fun to play with different players,” she said. “We played with every university so it was cool to see a different culture. It was just a really good experience.”
Washington is excited to return to home for this week’s start of the fall academic quarter and then their home tournament in two weeks.
“I feel like the whole team feels good about themselves, so going into the tournament we’re going to in with a lot of confidence,” Kim said.
“The first win kind of helped us with that, too.”
The five players competing in the Ihlanfeldt Invitational will differ from those that went to Japan. The Huskies with the lowest five scores after back-to-back, 36-hole days recently earned a spot in the lineup and will compete for the team score.
“We qualified for this event,” Mulflur explained. “We started from scratch basically.
“There’s no guarantee for anybody.”
Those that qualified for the Ihlanfeldt: Kim, Thomas, Luo, sophomore Monica Huang, and freshman Eimi Koga.
“I’m really excited about it. It’s our home tournament and we usually want to kick some butt,” Luo said, to the amusement of her coach and teammates seated next to her.
Because this is a home tournament, all members will be able to compete for individual scores. Senior Kelli Bowers and Okino will do so.
Yang will miss the tournament. She’ll be playing in Venice, Fla., in the second of three stages of the 2013 Ladies Professional Golf Association (LGPA) qualifying tournament.
“I’m happy with the start to the year. I think our whole team is,” Thomas said. “There’s always stuff that you can improve on, but I’m really happy with our time in Japan.
“I really hope we continue the way we started.”