This is the first of several posts covering Ohio State Women’s Golf over the next few days. The first team event, the East & West Match Play Challenge,  will be played September 16-18 at UM’s Radrick Farms Golf Course in Ann Arbor, MI. I’ll be covering that early next week.

For now, we’ll take a look at an International Golf Foundation event, the World Amateur Team Championships (WATC), in Rivera Maya, Mexico. The location is 60 km south of Cancun, in case you’re reaching for a map. There are international 55 teams consisting of 3 (or 2) amateur women golfers competing for the Espirito Cup. This is the 27th year for this event, so it’s well established and a significant international event.

The “Ohio State” hook with this event is the participation of OSU’s Katja Pogacar, representing her home country of Slovenia. Let’s see how things worked out.

After the 1st round, Slovenia was in 28th place with a score of +13 to par. Katja had a decent round of +6 (78); in fact she was the low scorer for the Slovenian team.

Beginning her round on the 10th hole, Katja got out of the blocks fast with a birdie 2 on the 188 yard par-3 hole. Although she had 3 bogeys on the back side, Katja’s birdie and 5 pars were a solid start.  Her back side (holes #1-#9) were similar with 6 pars.  However, she did stumble with a double bogey 6 on the par-4, 375-yd 2nd hole. Still, in my estimate, not a big problem. Through Katja’s initial round, she booked 1 birdie, 1 double bogey and 11 pars. The “11 pars” is an important figure; if  a golfer can get around a course with most of her/his scores as par or better, chances are a good round has been played.

In other news, the United States team (Katelyn Dambaugh, Mariel Galdiano, Andrea Lee) shot a +2 (146). That’s a pretty good round. In their first appearance at this event, Bulgaria ( Sofia Seldemirova, Ivana Simenova, Stefani Skokanska) shot a +30 (174) in their opening round. I’ve included scores of the United States just in case you’re curious and and Bulgaria because our daughter-in-law in Bulgarian. She doesn’t golf, but still… And I think it’s good that more countries are expanding/developing their golf programs to compete at an international level. For the sake of the game… Just for context, the 1st round leader, Switzerland, shot a -7 (137). That’s a pretty good best 2 of 3 score.

This is a good tournament for Katja for a couple reasons. First, it’s a prestigious international competition and she was selected to represent her country. That is always a big deal. This format is similar to the match formats that Ohio State plays, except a bit tougher. In the collegiate format, usually “play 5, count 4”, the players can’t get too loose with their games because you don’t want to be the player that didn’t contribute to the team score. In the WATC, there is far less room for error; it’s best “2 of 3” that count. I think this more stringent format with help Katja in upcoming tourneys for the Buckeyes.

Frankly, I don’t expect the scores to be that low this week. The courses aren’t that long (Iberostar Playa Paraiso is 6,167 yards; Mayakoba El Camaleon is 6,295 yards), but the terrain is a challenge. Both courses have a lot of woods, water and bunkers to navigate around. They are hard by the ocean and winds will come into play. To score well, a player really needs to keep her ball in the fairway. And putt well, too.