UCF head coach Emily Marron with freshman Elizabeth Moon (UCF Athletics photo)
MELBOURNE, Fla. – There are, perhaps, a surprising amount of possible combinations with a roster of eight players, and UCF head coach Emily Marron has tried a lot of them this season. The Knights' Feb. 19 win at the Moon Golf Invitational featured a fivesome Marron had never tried before. It seems she has found a winning combination.
“We’ve had a different lineup almost every week,” Marron said after a sweaty day at Duran Golf Club.
The way this team won speaks volume for its focus and grit. UCF turned a one-shot co-lead into a nine-shot win on host Louisville.
Marron says there wasn’t an inspirational night-before-the-final-round speech. Still, a young team – two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior -- posted 8 under in the final round to pull away from the field.
Marron, in her seventh year at the helm in Orlando, likes to keep it loose and relaxed. The way her program works, a top-20 finish gets a player an exemption into the next event. That’s good news for Elizabeth Moon (T-9), Maria Balcazar (T-13) and Chinatsu Kobayashi (T-3), who led UCF with scores in the red on Tuesday.
Kobayashi’s finish was especially impressive, considering she started the week as the No. 5 player in the lineup. The sophomore has appeared in the team lineup only one other time this season but played two tournaments as an individual.
“I think that’s what it takes to play well, you have to have a whole group effort – when one doesn’t play well, somebody else steps up,” Marron said. “I think this is the first time we’ve had a total one through five effort.”
Even though the Moon Golf title is UCF’s second this season, it hasn’t been an easy run. UCF has had two 11th-place finishes and two 12th-place finishes. Their head-to-head ranking took a hit, moving them to No. 58 in the Golfweek
/Sagarin Ranking entering the week.
Marron takes the good with the bad, pointing out that this is only the second time in her tenure that a UCF team has won more than one (full-field) title in a single season. The Knights won the Princess Anne Invitational by four shots in October.
Ranking will come into play later in the season, when it’s time for postseason selection. UCF plays two more times – at the Lady Gator Invitational and the Brickyard Collegiate – before the AAC Championship in April. The Knights won the conference title in 2015 and ‘17, and with a young team, Marron hopes to build back to that.
“We have to play well, and that’s what we’ve told them,” Marron said. “If we want to make NCAAs, we just have to keep doing what we’re doing. We know that it’s in our hands so we have to go keep doing things like this.”
In Melbourne, UCF got head-to-head victories on six top-50 programs. Maybe Marron hit the lineup jackpot this week, but more importantly, her players showed they can go after something they want.
ABOUT THE Moon Golf Invitational
54-hole women's college tournament hosted by the
University of Louisville. Team (best four scores out of
five players each round) and individual competitions.
View Complete Tournament Information