Georgia freshman Rinko Mitsunaga fired a 1-under 71 in the first round of the Lady Bulldog Individual Championship on Saturday en route to securing medalist honors at the UGA Golf Course. The 4th annual tournament was a one-day, 36-hole event that kicked off the 2016 calendar portion of Georgia’s season.
“I’m so proud of all of the girls and we’re so excited to get the season started,” Georgia head coach Josh Brewer said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve played and had people watch us. We learned a lot about ourselves today and I’m super proud of Rinko. I was hoping that trophy would stay in Athens and it took her 37 holes to make it happen. I’m just proud of her to get her first win as a Bulldog and get our spring started. “
Mitsunaga shot 76 in the evening round after her 1-under loop in the morning to finish at 3-over 147. Her 147 tied Mississippi’s Alison Hovatter. After a 1-hole playoff, Mitsunaga secured the win, paring the 9th hole while Hovatter bogeyed.
“I’ve played a lot of playoffs in my junior career so I think that helped,” Mitsunaga said. “I just played it better and was able to finish it off well. I really wanted to prove that I could play better than I was in the fall.”
Mitsunaga teed off from No. 2 with the shotgun start in both rounds. In the morning, she posted back-to-back birdies to end her round on No. 18 and No. 1.
All 10 Bulldogs competed in the tournament, which also served as qualifying rounds for Georgia’s five spots in the lineup for next weekend’s Lady Puerto Rico Classic. All told, Bulldog golfers recorded four top-10 and eight top-18 finishes on the day.
Bailey Tardy tied for third at 151, Jillian Harris placed sixth at 153, Harang Lee came in ninth place with a 155, Manuela Carbajo Re and Isabella Skinner tied for 11th at 157, Sammi Lee and Mary Ellen Shuman tied for 18th at 161, Isa Silva Zamora came in 25th place with a 165 and Slyvie Brick tied for 40th at 178.
“This was an individual tournament,” Brewer said. “We start team play in a week and we’ll get a better feel of who we are. Everyone in the program has things to work on. It’s still 17 weeks until the National Championship. We have to continue improving and get ready for that run at the end of the year.”
The Lady Puerto Rico Classic will be Georgia’s first team event of the spring campaign. 16 teams will compete in the 54-hole event at the Wyndham Rio Mar Resort and Country Club. The tournament begins on Sunday, February 14 and will conclude on Tuesday, February 16.
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