Amber Park (copy)

Junior golfer Amber Park and the Aggies will open the spring slate with a trip to Mexico.

The Texas A&M women’s golf team returns to action this weekend as the Aggies head down to the Guadalajara Country Club in Guadalajara, Mexico, for the IJGA Collegiate Invitational tournament.

This is their first tournament of the spring season as they look to build off the momentum they built after finishing the fall campaign with back-to-back fourth place finishes in the Jim West Challenge and the Battle at the Beach.

This will be the Aggies second consecutive tournament south of the border as their last tournament was in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, where they competed in the Battle at the Beach tournament last November. The Aggies finished fourth place in that tournament after a final round surge of 13-under.

The good showing going into the winter break gives the team a lot to be excited for as they head into the first tournament of the spring, said senior Courtney Dow.

“We’re all really excited to get the spring season rolling and get to enjoy the warmer weather in Mexico,” Dow said. “We’ve been working hard over the off season, and I’m excited to carry the momentum we built at the end of the fall into these next tournaments.”

It will be more than four months since the Aggies last played in a tournament. It can be difficult to get back into the competitive mentality after such a long break, said head coach Andrea Gaston, though she is confident the team took advantage of the break to improve their game.

“Most of the girls competed during the Christmas break, which is the best way to prepare for the spring season,” Gaston said.

One of the players who competed over the break was freshman Blanca Fernandez, who participated in a couple tournaments in her home country of Spain. Fernandez finished in second place at the Santander Women’s Professional Championship in her hometown of Madrid, and was the low amateur by an impressive eight strokes.

Gaston has taken other steps to get the back into the groove of practice by having in-team competitions to see what form the players are in and what weaknesses to address in anticipation of the upcoming tournaments.

“Once the team returned from the break, we began our spring season training with a series of qualifying rounds in order to prepare for the upcoming competition,” Gaston said. “These qualifying rounds give us a good idea of where the players are with their game, which enables us to identify any weak areas. Competing and playing in hard conditions during practice will help the team play with confidence in the tournament.”

Although this tournament will be the first time that many of the team players will play the Guadalajara Country Club golf course, the team has developed a strategy for competing at new courses.

“Coach does a great job of giving us some variety in our schedule where we see several new venues every year,” Dow said. “We try to approach it the same as any other tournament and take detailed notes during the practice round and get familiar with the course so we can create some certainty for the tournament rounds.”

The IJGA Collegiate Invitational runs from Feb. 16-18, with live scoring available on golfstat.com.

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