Senior Valerie Kitamori wasn’t planning on attending the PGA Minority Collegiate Championships, and she certainly wasn’t planning on tying for third in the tournament, but she did just that.
In her second day of the tournament, Kitamori’s five-over-par score had her at third in the Women’s Independent Division and sixth overall out of a combined amount of 39 golfers in the women’s independent and team fields.
She returned the next day to shoot a 79, which clenched her third place finish in the Women’s Independent Division.
On Sunday, the third and last day of the tournament, Kitamori shot her best round with a four-over par 76 which gave her a 232 total and a third place tie out of 15 golfers in that group.
She was tied with Xavier’s Ariel Mcnair.
Out of both divisions, Kitamori ended with a seventh place tie.
Kitamori traveled to Florida for the tournament, which took place May 6 through May 8. She was the only member of the Pacific women’s golf team to compete.
2010 was the first year that Pacific applied to the tournament, but because of lack of funding they were unable to go so this was the first year that a Pacific athlete competed in it.
Kitamori said that they applied for the tournament in March, but her decision to actually attend it was spur of the moment. To qualify, applicants must have had a high scoring average through the season, good grades and be a minority student.
“My coach was the one who told me that I should try it out,” said Kitamori. “I was still undecided though because it was close to finals and my parents stressed the importance of not missing school.”
Although Kitamori placed at the tournament, she said one of the biggest challenges she faced there was not having her team by her side.
“I was a little thrown off because it was the first time I had played individually at a tournament since before high school,” said Kitamori. “I missed my teammates and their support but I hope that some of them will be able to go to this tournament next year because it was still a good experience.”
Looking back on her golf career at Pacific, Kitamori said she had no regrets.
“As a freshman I wasn’t even going to play collegiate golf but I’m glad I decided to go through with it.
This was a really good program and I was lucky enough to meet some amazing teammates.”
The PGA Minority Collegiate Championships were Kitamori’s last appearance as a collegiate athlete for Pacific University.
“I’m glad I went because it was a great way to finish my golf career at Pacific.”