By: BRANDEE BRITT
PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico — It’s not every day the University of Iowa women’s golf team’s practice round includes mountain views, palm trees, ocean breezes, and a run in with a (caged) tiger on the 17th hole, but that is the norm at El Tigre Golf Club in Puerto Vallarta.
The inaugural Hawkeye-El Tigre Invitational tees off Sunday afternoon, but the idea of hosting a tournament outside of the United States began years ago.
“I got this idea when I was an assistant coach at Idaho,” said UI assistant coach Michael Roters. “We had a player who had played the El Tigre Golf Club and talked about how great the facility was. I called El Tigre’s head golf pro and threw this idea out to him about hosting a golf tournament there. He was all for it and we made it happen.”
“Mike brought the idea, because he was thinking about doing it at his previous school,” UI head coach Megan Menzel said. “We thought it was just a great opportunity this time of year to get out in some fabulous weather. This is a championship golf course, so we knew it would be a good place to host.”
The 14-team field features nine teams ranked in the top-100 of the Golfstat Division I women’s golf rankings, including Wisconsin (49), Washington (52), New Mexico State (54), Idaho (61), Coastal Carolina (67), Ole Miss (69), Iowa (80), UTSA (84), and Kennesaw State (90).
“We are grateful to be in a place like this with such a competitive environment,” said Menzel. “The hospitality has been wonderful, and we are excited to see what we can do on the course the next few days.”
The Hawkeyes arrived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Friday afternoon and enjoyed dinner by the ocean before getting a good night’s sleep prior to Saturday’s practice round.
“It has been a fun experience,” said senior Jessie Sindlinger. “It’s cool because we are hosting this tournament and we can own it. The course is nice; it is absolutely beautiful here.”
With a full 18 holes under their belts, the Hawkeyes are ready for all the elements El Tigre Golf Club has to offer.
“I’m feeling good,” said junior Jessica Ip. “The course off the tee is not too difficult. It appears to be tighter than it actually is. When you get up there, there’s more room than you think. There is a lot of water though, so you have to be careful about the type of shots you take.”
The inaugural Hawkeye El-Tigre Invitational begins Sunday with a shotgun start at 2 p.m. (CT). The event continues with a 2 p.m. shotgun start on Monday, and concludes at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“We would love to make this a yearly event,” said Roters. “We have already started working out the details for next year, but we are fully focused on these next few days.”
By: BRANDEE BRITT