Women’s Golf Prepped for 2021 Nittany Lion Invitational



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State women’s golf team is set to begin its 2021 fall campaign this weekend as they host the 45th annual Nittany Lion Invitational on Saturday, September 4 and Sunday, September 5.

After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Penn State Nittany Lions will once again host their home tournament at the Penn State Golf Courses this weekend. In celebration of 100 years of Penn State golf, the tournament will return to its roots and be contended on the White Course for the first time in over 10 years.

“The bunkers [on the White Course] are more difficult for sure, they’re deeper and there are more bunkers that come into play,” mentioned head coach Denise St. Pierre. “The green complexes overall are also more challenging [than the Blue Course].”

COURSE OVERVIEW

  • Renovated in 2005, the White Course provides a challenging alternative to the newer Blue Course. With holes dating back to 1922, the shorter White Course provides smaller crowned greens adding to the character and demanding a creative short game. The sculpted bunkering done in the 1920’s has been photographed and studied by some of today’s top architects. Nearly 40 bunkers on the front side alone force you to manage your game, in your efforts to shoot a low score.
  • Elevation changes and deceptively placed fairway and green side bunkers will challenge your distance control and depth perception.
  • The White Course par 3’s will prove to be some of the most challenging you have played. This course will test your creativity. When in doubt, bump and run.

ABOUT THE NLI

  • The first-ever Nittany Lion Invitational was played in 1974 with this weekend marking the 22nd consecutive NLI to be contested during the fall season.
  • Overall, the tournament has been held in the fall 31 times while taking place during the spring season on 13 different occasions with the last being in 1999.
  • Penn State has captured 23 tournament crowns including five of the last 10. The Nittany Lions earned the team championship in 2015 and 2016 and finished second to Maryland in 2017 before regaining its tournament crown in 2018. The last NLI played in 2019 was won by Penn with the Nittany Lions finishing second.
  • Penn State has had 14 individual medalists with the most recent being Sarah Willis in 2018 with her tournament record 11-under (205) finish. Willis shot three sub-par rounds of 68, 70 and 67 at the Par-72 Blue Course and her 205 total was also a 54-hole Penn State school record.
  • The Nittany Lions trailed by 11 shots entering the final five holes of the 2018 tournament and proceeded to go 9-under over that stretch to tie Washington for first place. Recent Nittany Lion graduate Ashni Dhruva, the fifth member of the team, finished one-stroke better than the Huskies fifth player to secure the tie-break victory.
  • Penn State’s final round score of 9-under, 279, is the second lowest 18-hole total in school history.

THE FIELD

  • This year’s field consists of the host Nittany Lions as well as 13 other schools from across the Midwest and Northeast.
  • Those schools represented this weekend are Akron, Boston College, Bucknell, Delaware, Georgetown, Harvard, James Madison, Pennsylvania, Penn State, Princeton, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Towson, Youngstown State.
  • Each school will start five golfers with the four lowest scores counting toward the team total. Six individuals from Penn State along with individuals from Rutgers, Boston College, Harvard, Seton Hall, Delaware, James Madison, Georgetown, Youngstown State, Akron and Bucknell round out the complete field of 87 golfers.

THE TEAM

  • Penn State’s starting five for the opening tournament of the season will consist of four returners and one freshman. Senior Sarah Willis (Eaton, Ohio) begins her fourth-year in the starting lineup joining junior classmates Mathilde Delavallade (Royan, France) and Isha Dhruva (Katy, Texas). Sophomore Victoria Tip-Aucha (Vienna, Va.) will get her first crack at the Nittany Lion Invitational while freshman Drew Nienhaus (St. Louis, Mo.) rounds out the starting five.
  • Willis paced the team during a shortened 2020-21 season with a 74.22 stroke average followed closely by Delavallade at 75.11. Dhruva and Tip-Aucha finished third and fourth, respectively, with averages of 76.13 and 76.67.
  • The remaining six Nittany Lions will compete as individuals with four making their Penn State debuts.
  • Sophomore Maria Arizaga (Samborondon, Ecuador) will be making her collegiate debut along with freshmen Michelle Cox (Allentown, Pa.), Jami Morris (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and Katie Scheck (Greensboro, Ga.).
  • Junior classmates Taylor Waller (Canonsburg, Pa.) and Lauren Freyvogel (Gibsonia, Pa.) will round out the squad competing as individuals.

NEXT UP
Penn State returns to the course next Sunday through Tuesday (September 12-14) when they travel to the Cougar Classic hosted by the College of Charleston in Hanahan, South Carolina.
 



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