By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
After finishing no higher than eighth in the first three tournaments of the year, Baylor women’s golf coach Jay Goble is hoping to “finish off the fall season on a high note.”
The Bears are hosts for Battle at the Beach, a 14-team tournament that starts Friday at the par-71 Club Campestre layout in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico.
“You can’t think of a better setting for a college golf tournament than this place,” Goble said. “We’re staying at an awesome resort, a great golf course, with beautiful views of the sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean.”
Highlighted by top-ranked UCLA, the field for the three-day, 54-hole tournament has the feel and name recognition of an NCAA regional. Half of the 14 teams are ranked in the top 25, with Texas at 13th, plus Wake Forest (21st), Virginia (21st), Houston (22nd), North Carolina (24th) and Vanderbilt (25th).
“For the first time hosting the event, I’m really excited for the field we were able to get,” Goble said. “And I think when people see a bunch of the pictures that the other teams are posting, we’re going to continue to attract an even better field every year.”
Also in the field are No. 31 Oklahoma, 36th-ranked Ohio State, Auburn (38th), Baylor (57th), TCU (61st), Mississippi State (81st) and Tulane (85th).
A match play qualifier at the NCAA Championships twice in the last three years, Baylor has struggled out of the gates this season. The Bears finished 12th at the Schooner Fall Classic, eighth at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate and 11th at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational.
But, Goble said the team is “gradually getting better. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
“We’ve had good rounds, we’ve played well in spurts. We just haven’t really put it all together as a team,” he said. “I think every team is spending the first couple months trying to find their identity, and we’re trying to find ours. We have all the talent in the world to again have one of the best teams in the country, and we’re working hard to get there.”
Baylor’s lineup is the same as the last tournament, with seniors Amy Lee and Giovana Maymon joined by junior Maria Vesga, sophomore Fiona Liddell and freshman Diane Baillieux. Sophomore Cheerie Tan and freshman Jordan Shackleford are playing in the tournament as individuals.
Liddell (73.56) and Lee (73.89) lead the team in scoring average and have posted the only top-25 finishes of the season. Maymon (79.44), a native of Mexico and part of the NCAA runner-up team as a freshman in 2015, has struggled this fall, but “I love having her in the lineup because she’s a great teammate,” Goble said.
“She’s playing a little better than Cheerie right now, and Giovana does everything right. She’s really good with the rest of the team and she’s a really good, motivating person. And she’s in Mexico, so maybe she’ll play some inspired golf this week.”
Using a shotgun start for Friday’s opening round, Baylor will be paired with Texas, UCLA and Ohio State and will tee off from holes 1-4 at 8:30 a.m. Live scoring for the tournament is available at www.birdiefire.com.