Women’s golf opens season with 11th place finish

(Archive photo by Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)
The women's golf team practices at Colbert Hills on Sept 5. The team enters the season under new head coach, Stew Burke. (Archive photo by Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State women’s golf teed off the Stew Burke era with a sour final-round performance, placing 11th at the Schooner Fall Classic with a final 54-hole score of 16-over par. 

The Wildcats entered Monday’s final round in fifth place but could not climb higher after a 14-over-par final round.

“We missed a big opportunity today with our poor play,” head coach Stew Burke said to K-State Athletics. “Ultimately, the team is learning and has to be in a position to close more often.”

Despite the team carding a disappointing final round, one positive came from junior Carla Bernat. The transfer, who followed Burke from Tulane, notched her first under-par round as a Wildcat at 1-under.

“The positives outweigh the negatives in terms of performance and progress we’re making, but at this level, mistakes are highlighted,” Burke said. “It’s on me to prepare the ladies better for our next event.”

Overall, the Wildcats’ top performer was freshman Alenka Navarro, who tied for 22nd place at 1-over par. Bernat followed her in a tie for 34th place at 4-over. 

Senior Haley Vargas finished with a three-round total of 8-over par, putting her in 58th place. Vargas comes off of a season in which she represented the Wildcats as an individual for the 2023 NCAA San Antonio Regional.

Fellow senior Gabriela McNelly tied for 61st, carding a 9-over-par total. She notched her career-low round of 68 on Sunday. 

Freshman Julia Ballester Barrio rounded out the scoring lineup by placing 71st at 15-over par. 

Wake Forest cruised on its way to the tournament title, just months removed from winning the national championship. 

The Wildcats will return to Manhattan and host the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational next Monday and Tuesday at Colbert Hills.