By Sam Draut–
If setting the tone for a good round of golf begins on the first hole, University of Louisville women’s golfer Laura Restrepo did exactly that on her way to tying for ninth in the Briar’s Creek Invitational. The senior couldn’t have “imagined a better start” when she dropped in a 50-yard chip for eagle on the first hole of the two-day three-round tournament in Johns Island, South Carolina.
Restrepo finished her opening round 4-under-par after she added three birdies to the eagle on the first hole. Using a wedge on her approach shot at the green, Restrepo wasn’t thinking about making the shot, but she wanted to get the ball close enough to make birdie.
“The hole was behind a ridge so you couldn’t really see the hole,” Restrepo said. “As soon as I hit it I thought it was pretty good and I started walking up to the green. The girls I was playing with started yelling and said the ball went in.”
Following her lowest score since her sophomore season, Restrepo shot a 1-over-par in the second round and finished the final round shooting 1-over-par ending at 214, her best three-round score since her sophomore year. It marks Restrepo’s fifth top-10 finish of the season and helped to lead the team to a seventh-place finish in the tournament. The Panama native was six-strokes behind the top spot.
“She has been playing really good this spring,” coach Courtney Trimble said. “She has gotten really consistent, she is making some putts, she had a great week, she had a chance to win the tournament.”
Competing on what she believed to be the nicest greens she has played on all year, Restrepo was able to rack up 13 birdies including five in the final round. She said the course was a good fit for her and she was feeling good about her game after getting comfortable with the course during the practice round the day prior.
“The greens were amazing, they were the best greens I have played all year,” Restrepo said. “So smooth, really fast, you know you’re going to make a lot of putts if you start the ball on line because they’re so smooth and they roll true.”
Trimble thinks Restrepo is playing “as good as anyone in the country right now.” She has moved into the top-50 rankings in the nation while being the Cardinals most consistent contributor this season.
“She has been playing really good this spring, she has gotten really consistent, she is making some putts,” Trimble said. “She is looking really poised to have a great postseason for her senior year.”
With six freshmen on the team, Restrepo, along with fellow senior Katie Mitchell, spent the first part of the fall season teaching and guiding the young roster. The pair of seniors have done their best to keep the team “upbeat” and having fun.
While Restrepo has vaulted into a role of leadership in her final year, she is also playing the best golf of her career. With the mindset of playing within herself, everything else started to fall into place.
“Throughout my last three years I have learned a lot about myself, so I think I am in a better place mentally,” Restrepo said. “I know what works for me and what doesn’t and I’m able to apply that.”
Along with a proper mindset, Trimble said Restrepo has worked hard on her game to get to where she is now. The senior has “learned how to manage her game” and improve upon her putting.
“She has always been a consistent ball striker, but she has learned how to manage her bad shots and she is making more putts,” Trimble said.
Before Louisville competes in the ACC Championship, the Cardinals travel to Napa, California for the Silverado Showdown from April 3-5 in the final tournament before the postseason. Whereas the tournaments in the fall season can be more spread out, the spring season has a tournament nearly every two weeks.
“The tournaments are really back-to-back, basically you have no time to waste, when you get back from a tournament you know exactly what you need to work on,” Restrepo said. “I am excited about the next couple tournaments.”
Photo by Sam Draut / The Louisville Cardinal