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Freshman Natalie Chao shot Penn's lowest score in the Yale Fall Invitational at eight-over-par. 

Despite 10-hour days and challenging playing conditions, the inexperienced Penn women's golf team's weekend invitational was marked by both career-best finishes and other successful performances.

The Quakers competed in its third tournament of the year, the Yale Fall Intercollegiate, on Oct. 9 and 10. The team finished sixth out of 10 at the 54-hole invitational. Overall, Penn ended the weekend at 904 across the three rounds — 52-over par and 38 strokes behind champion Boston College.

After not competing for a year and a half because of the COVID-19 pandemic, coach Mark Anderson is working with his team to build up their endurance and get back into tournament form. 

“All of our events include 36 holes on Saturdays, which is a 10-plus hour day. One of the players tracked that she walked 13 miles in one day, showing how physically and mentally difficult competitions are,” Anderson said. “We had a good talk about the mental game last week, and we’re just focusing on trying to be a little more consistent with our playing.”

Despite these challenges, the team had four players shoot their lowest rounds ever. Freshman Natalie Cao and junior Selina Li both shot an even-par 71. In addition, sophomore Debby Chang and freshman Eunice Kim both shot a 74.

“We were all really motivated after we learned about this,” Cao said. “It showed us that hard work pays off, and it felt amazing to achieve such an accomplishment with the team.”

Standout individual performances included Cao, who placed 10th out of 66 and was Penn’s lowest scorer of the weekend, ending at eight-over-par 221. She finished the tournament with one of the invitational’s five eagles — the only one for Penn — and a scoring on par-five holes that was tied for best with tournament champion Nathalie Irlbacher of Boston College.

Another notable competitor was Li, who had an especially strong Saturday that included her career-best round. She completed the weekend tied for 13th place, with a score of 224 that was 11-over par.

“I feel great about how the weekend went; the course and playing conditions were challenging, but I’m glad I was able to perform well out there,” Li said. “It was an extremely long first day, but our coach told us to take it one shot at a time, and that’s what I did. Honestly, I was unaware of how I was playing exactly, I just focused on each shot and it turned out nicely.”

This weekend’s showing also included senior Mary Shin, who tied for 34th, senior Leila Dizon, who tied for 36th, and Kim, who tied for 38th. Chang, junior Abigail Wiranatha, and senior Olivia Traynor competed as individuals and tied for 29th and placed 50th and 51st, respectively. Chang was also second in par-three scoring, finishing at three-under for the weekend.

Next weekend, Penn women’s golf will compete in its last tournament for the fall, the University of Delaware's Lady Blue Hen Invitational. It’s a chance for Penn to defend their 2019 championship, and the team is looking forward to this opportunity.

“I think the best mentality going back this year is to just focus on our own games,” Li said. “The field is strong and in order to play well, we can’t overthink too much or let past expectations affect us.”

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