Pac-12 Women's Golf Championships
Where: Sewailo Golf Club (par 72, 6458 yards) in Tucson, Ariz.
Colorado players: Robyn Choi, Fr.; Brittany Fan, Jr.; Kirsty Hodgkins, Fr.; Lauryn Keating, So.; Esther Lee, Sr.
Notable: Arizona State sophomore Linnea Strom is the defending champion, setting a Pac-12 Championship 54-hole record with her 11-under 205 last year. ... USC is the defending team champion. UCLA was the last team to repeat as champion, winning three in a row from 2004-06.
Facing a field that includes three of the top five teams in the country is a daunting task for the Colorado women's golf team.
The Buffaloes, however, have the mindset to take on that task, beginning Monday at the Pac-12 Championship at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.
"If you want to be one of the best, you always have to put yourself up against the best," senior Esther Lee said. "We definitely think that it's a challenge, but it's a challenge that we really embrace, because it only makes you better as players."
While six Pac-12 teams are ranked among the top 25 by Golfweek, the Buffaloes — who are ranked No. 26 — have proven to be one of the best in the country, as well.
"It's just been a steady progression this spring and it seems like each week the team is getting a little bit better," CU head coach Anne Kelly said. "We always want to win. I think in an ideal situation we're capable of it, but golf is just so unpredictable and I think you have to just take it a day at a time, a shot at a time.
"I always tell our team members, just do the best you can on every shot and then add it up when we get done. That's a lot easier said than done, but I think that's the mentality you have to have to compete at a high level."
CU needs to play at a high level with No. 2 Arizona State, No. 3 Stanford and No. 5 UCLA leading a talented field. All 11 Pac-12 teams (Utah does not have a women's golf team) are ranked in the top 65.
This spring, the Buffs have been able to put together several quality results, including a third-place finish (in a field of 18) at their most recent event, the Silverado Showdown in Napa, Calif., earlier this month. Their final score (860) was the third-best 54-hole score in program history.
CU has finished in the top four of all five spring tournaments.
"I think that everyone on the team is in a really good place right now with their golf game and their confidence," Lee said. "So having that mindset, it translates a lot into how we play on the course. Everyone is really looking forward to showing everyone else what we're capable of."
Host Arizona, ranked 13th nationally, has an advantage because of its course knowledge, but the Buffs have some experience at Sewailo, having played a tournament there last year and practicing there earlier this year.
"Once you play a course, you never really forget it, so I would say we're all pretty well prepared," Lee said.
Brittany Fan (73.27) and Lee (73.54) have led the team in stroke average this spring, while Robyn Choi (74.9) and Kirsty Hodgkins (75.1) have also played well. All four have led the team at some point this spring.
In the fifth spot will be freshman Lauryn Keating, who has played well of late, Kelly said.
It's a group that Kelly has confidence in as the Buffs aim for a third consecutive top-five finish in this event.
"There's so many good teams in the Pac-12 that you just have to go put your head down and play your best golf and see what happens," Kelly said.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.