Women’s golf captures first title of the Stew Burke era

New women's golf head coach Stew Burke leads a practice at Colbert Hills on Sept. 5. Burke helped lead the Wildcats to their first title of the season at the White Sands Invitational, with fifth-year Haley Vargas winning an individual title. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

At the White Sands Invitational in the Bahamas, Kansas State women’s golf earned its first tournament title under first-year head coach Stew Burke. Fifth-year Haley Vargas notched the first individual title of her career as well. 

“This was a team effort this week, and I am delighted for the ladies capturing their first team title and for Haley individually,” Burke said to K-State Athletics. “We had a target on our back all week, and I’m proud of how the ladies competed and blocked out the distractions.”

The Wildcats finished the three-round event at 20-over par, placing seven strokes better than second-place North Florida. K-State led after each of the opening two rounds and never let the lead slip. 

K-State had not won a tournament title since 2019 when it won its home event, the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational at Colbert Hills. The last time the Wildcats won a non-home event was in 2017. 

“Winning is never easy and something we’re going to learn together as we chase our season goals,” Burke said. “Today wasn’t perfect, but we proved to ourselves we can win.”

Vargas finished with a 54-hole score of 1-over par, two strokes better than the second-place individual, Christina Carroll from Delaware. 

Vargas joins junior Carla Bernat as Wildcats who have won an individual tournament title this fall, the first time the Wildcats have had multiple individual winners in a season since 2017.

Three other Wildcats placed in the top 10 in the Bahamas.

Freshmen Julia Ballester Barrio and Alenka Navarro each recorded their best finishes, placing third and seventh, respectively. Ballester Barrio tied in her placement at 5-over par, while Navarro shot 7-over par.  

Sophomore Noa van Beek finished in a tie for eighth place at 9-over par, her best finish as well. Junior Remington Isaac rounded out the scoring lineup, finishing in a tie for 34th place at 20-over par. 

This tournament marks the end of the fall season for the Wildcats who will pick up the spring season February 4-6, at the Puerto Rico Classic. 

“I look forward to a productive offseason where we can reset, analyze and work hard to be ready for the spring season,” Burke said.