'Bows looking to move forward
University of Hawai'i will host the 25th Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational at Kāne'ohe Klipper tomorrow and Tuesday. The 17 teams will play 36 holes the first day, with the final round Tuesday.
There is an 8 a.m. shotgun start both days.
Some of the teams joining the Rainbow Wahine are UH-Hilo, Osaka Gakuin from Japan and 40th-ranked San Francisco, the only top-50 Division-I program playing this year.
Rollins, ranked No. 2 in Division II, is also here. The College Tars won the DII championship from 2003 to 2006 — by an average of 36 shots each year. They recently hired Naree Song as an assistant. The former AJGA All-American, along with twin sister Aree, was low amateur at the 2000 U.S. Women's Open, at age 14.
Rollins is led by junior Joanna Coe, who won the NCAA DII championship as a freshman. The Florida school has players from six countries and four states.
"Our tournament is different in the sense that, for a lot of schools, it's a perk for players," said UH coach Lori Castillo. "This is a reward tournament. At the same time, when they get out on the course it's all about golf. It's fun because we have a chance to share the aloha and focus on our kids."
The Rainbow Wahine's only team championship came at the inaugural invitational in 1986. Hawai'i shared that title with Arizona. Bobbi Kokx, who would later coach the 'Bows, was the tournament medalist.
Arizona has won the event six more times. Oklahoma State has captured it three times and Stanford, Georgia, USC and Texas A&M have won twice. Individual champions include Annika Sorenstam, who won it in 1991 and '92, Janice Moodie (1994 and '97) and Natalie Gulbis (2001).
The 'Bows' focus, at a tournament named in memory of the person who started the UH women's athletics program, is to keep moving forward.
"I always tell them to play like they practice," Castillo said. "They need to look for their own inner confidence, that they can do this. Don't put additional pressure on themselves, just get comfortable. It's our home turf, let's take it.
"They've worked really hard, made good progress with their golf swings and other things, but we're not done. As long as they're moving forward, looking better and feeling better about themselves, I'm happy."
Freshman Ka'ili Britos led UH at last week's Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational, finishing 20th. It was her best collegiate finish. Britos opened with a collegiate career low of 73 and was in fifth going into the final round.
Senior Corie Hou was Hawai'i's top finisher at the previous four tournaments and is the team's scoring leader at 76.9.