New coach, players to lead women’s golf team

Chico State golfer Dani O'Keefe is one of the team's key returners from a year ago. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats

The Chico State women’s golf team is coming off a successful 2013 season where it placed in the top five in seven of the nine tournaments they competed in. With a new coach and a mix of incoming and returning golfers, the team is ready to build on their previous success.

Last year, the Wildcats were able to win two tournaments: the Dennis Rose Invitational in Waikoloa, Hawaii and the Western New Mexico Fall Invitational in Sun City, Arizona. The team competed in the NCAA Championship West Regional Tournament last season, but fell short and finished in ninth place.

This year, Chico State is scheduled to play at two of the top 100 courses in the United States: Torrey Pines in San Diego and Crosswater Golf Course in Three Rivers, Oregon.

Former Chico State golfer and new women’s golf interim head coach Nick Green has taken over the reins in place of the retired Kathy Dais.

He’s excited for one of the better fall schedules he’s seen, Green said.

New team captain Dani O’Keefe and teammate Bianca Armanini agreed, adding that they are excited for a tournament Oct. 2 in Oregon.

While the Wildcats currently have no tournaments scheduled at home, they were working on getting a tournament in Chico for the spring, Green said.

O’Keefe, meanwhile, said she is ready to step into her role as the leader of the team and is excited for nationals – the squad’s ultimate goal.

Chico State golfer Abbey McGrew will be returning this season. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats.

Returning junior Armanini is coming off a season-ending surgery, but she’s been working to get back into golfing form for the new season.

“I’ve been doing a lot of mental game practice,” Armanini said. “When you’re not playing in tournaments it’s hard to just jump back in. I’m working on my putting and chipping to get a good feel around the greens.”

As a true first-year, Armanini posted two top 20 finishes in three tournaments during the 2012-2013 season. That year, she had a stroke average of 79.5, second best on the team.

Now, she wants to win a tournament, Aramini said.

The two first-years, Kabrea Rosas and Ileana MacDonald, are expected to have a great first year as NCAA golfers. MacDonald will start the year as one of the starting five golfers.

Armanini said she’s played with the first-years a few times, and their talent level brings healthy competition to the team.

Chico State golfer Bianca Armanini returns after a season-ending injury last year. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats.

Green said he has some goals of his own in his first year as the head coach.

“It’s my goal all the time to compete at nationals,” Green said. “We finished in 18th nationally. We’re looking forward to building on that success.”

Lars Gustafson can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports.