Watchlist: Five college women who burst onto the scene
02 Dec 2023
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com
see also: Maria Jose Marin Rankings
Maria Jose Marin (Women's Am Latin America)
The fall season is a wrap in Division 1 women's golf. The usual suspects had strong seasons to help fill the gap that Rose Zhang's exit left in the sport. Ingrid Lindblad won two more events at LSU, and Megha Ganne found her stride at The Farm and won an event for Stanford.
There are also some new names popping up on leaderboards around the country. Some are first-year players who arrived with solid amateur resumes, while others have been grinding for a few years and broke through to earn national recognition and win events.
Here are five players who had strong falls to jump onto our radar.
Maria Jose Marin - Arkansas
Marin is the 76th-ranked player in the AmateurGolf/Golfweek rankings and has made quite a bit of noise in her first season in college golf. The Colombian won the Blessings Invitational with a 10-under-par total. She helped the Razorbacks defend their home turf in the Blessings in a rather comfortable team victory, beating Mississippi State by 14 shots. At the season-opening Carmel Cup, Marin was runner-up behind Megha Ganne. Marin has recorded a plethora of worldwide wins, including the Colombian Open and the Mexico Amateur. She was also runner-up in the 2022 Women's Amateur Latin America. She is sure to make plenty of noise in the spring for Arkansas.
Maisie Filler - Florida
Filler was named SEC Player of the Week twice this fall. The senior from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, recorded two wins in the fall's final two events - The Tar Heel Invitational and The Ally. She fired a career-low 64 at the Foothills Course at Chapel Hill. The Gators won three of their four events, and Filler was a big reason for that success, as she was the low scorer in all three of those events for the Gators.
Molly Smith - UCF
The first-year golfer from Westford, Massachusetts even surprised herself when she played well enough to earn a spot on the Annika Final Fall Watchlist. Smith recorded a 69.08 scoring average and won the Mercedes-Benz Intercollegiate with a tournament record score of 12-under par. Smith made five straight birdies in the final round to shoot a 66. The Knights also won the team event. In the season-opening Cougar Classic, Smith set the tone for her fall with a strong fifth-place finish.
Caitlyn Macnab - Ole Miss
The TCU transfer has made quite an impression in Oxford this fall. She never finished outside the top 7 in four events, including a win in the Mason Rudolph Championship with a score of 12-under par. She's a steady presence for Ole Miss; she's been the lead scorer for the team in two events and the second-best score in the other two events. She's finished each event under par and earned a spot on the Annika Final Fall Watchlist.
Sara Byrne - Miami
The Ireland native is right at home in South Florida, and she saved her best golf for the late fall portion of her junior year. She won her final two events - the Pat Bradley Invitational and The Hurricane Invitational. Byrne's performances in those two events catapulted the Hurricanes to team victories, also. Considering Byrne hadn't won a college event in her first two seasons with the Hurricanes, it seems she has made a rather big leap. Her nine-shot win in the Hurricane Invitational was highlighted by a 9-under 63, her highest score that week was a 68 in the closing round.