By ANDY WOLF
Makenzie Torres has one goal left to achieve this season.
The University of Findlay junior golfer is aiming to be All-America.
To do so, she’ll need a top-10 finish in the NCAA Division II women’s golf championships at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston. She is scheduled to tee off at 8:40 a.m. today.
“My expectations have definitely got greater for myself,” Torres said. “I knew my game was starting to come around to where I could build those expectations and expect myself to almost reach them every time, no matter the circumstances.”
While the stage doesn’t get any bigger, Torres already has national tournament experience.
As a true freshman, she carded a four-round 305 (77-76-75-77) to finish tied for 39th overall and help the Oilers take ninth in the team standings.
No UF golfer reached the national tournament last year, and a string of three straight team appearances was snapped.
“The pressure of being a freshman and being in the top five was something I definitely had never experienced before,” Torres said. “So having that under my belt in being able to experience the pressure of that tournament will be great.”
Since then, she’s grown even more confident in her game and into the role of team leader.
Findlay coach Dominic Guarnieri knew from Day 1 she’d be in UF’s top five.
“She had all the talent of the world,” Guarnieri said “I saw her improve a lot from freshman to sophomore year. It’s been a little bit of a slower process from sophomore to junior year, but when you get better it’s a lot harder to improve more. She’s definitely peaking at the right time this year, which is really good.”
Fittingly enough, Torres is playing some of her best golf in the past month.
She fired a second-round 71 to secure medalist honors at the Great Midwest Athletic Conference tournament — her second straight league-tournament win after capturing the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title as a sophomore.
After the GMAC, she reeled off a 144 (74-70) to finish second at the University of Illinois-Springfield Invite. The score was her personal best at UF and the fifth-lowest in school history.
Two events later, she grabbed the second of three individual national qualifying spots at the regional tournament, cemented by a final-round 71.
“I’ve definitely become even more confident in my game,” Torres said “I know that I have those shots versus hoping I have those shots. Confidence is just about all it takes to be a great golfer.”
The unfamiliar course will take some adjusting to.
Guarnieri said other coaches told him the course is set up very well for Torres.
“There’s some longer par fours, which we’re obviously excited about because she hits it really far off the tee, with which we like to utilize her distance, which helps eliminate half of the field from the beginning,” Guarnieri said.
She’ll also need to get used to playing on Bermuda-style grass.
However, they spent Monday getting used to how the greens roll, and she played an allotted practice round on Tuesday.
Torres refers to herself as an “emotional” golfer based on the expectations she’s set for herself.
“Some things can cause me to be a little more emotional than I’d like to be,” Torres said. “If that happens to be pumped-up emotion, you’re going to get full-on pumped up me.”
Golf: Torres aiming to finish as All-Americann
By ANDY WOLF