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UTEP golf senior June Ting teeing up one last time for Conference USA Championship

El Paso Times, Texas — Bill Knight El Paso Times, Texas

April 16--June Ting will tee it up Monday in Florida, all focus on that little white ball, all her efforts geared toward playing championship golf.

It will be just another round of golf. But it will be a round chasing a championship. And it will be the beginning round of a farewell tournament.

It will, in short, be bittersweet.

Ting is the lone senior on UTEP's women's golf team and, for the past four years, these tournaments have been an integral part of her life.

Ting and her UTEP teammates will be competing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (18 holes each day) in the Conference USA Women's Golf Championship at the Verandah Club in Fort Myers, Fla.

No one expects Ting and her teammates to win this tournament ... no one but Ting and her teammates.

"I think we can do it," the senior from Taipeii City, Taiwan said. "We have all been playing well. We just need to stay calm, play our game, play the way we have been playing."

UTEP coach Jere Pelletier said, "The one thing I have always been able to expect from June is that she will shoot a good score. She has really been dependable."

Old Dominion is the favorite, ranked 52nd in the nation by Golfstat. UTSA is ranked 75th and Middle Tennessee is ranked 82nd. UTEP is ranked 116th.

But the Miners are playing well right now. They have shot under 600 in five of their last six rounds and they won the Little Rock/Arkansas State Tournament on March 27. The scenario is almost the same as when they won this dance in 2011.

Ting almost won the individual title in that winning tournament in late March. But teammate Abbie Anghelescu had a different idea.

Ting and Anghelescu, a sophomore from Wolfe Island, Ontario in Canada, were part of a four-way tie for the individual title. They went into a sudden death playoff.

"I was happy to tie for the tournament," Ting said. "I'm glad Abbie won it if I couldn't."

Anghelescu smiled and said, "It was crazy; unbelievable. I struggled in my first semester and only got to play in one tournament. It was tough in the beginning. I worked so hard with coach. I played better the next semester.

"I didn't expect to be in the lead at the end that day," she said. "Then I just wanted to play my best. I really wasn't trying to win. I just wanted to play well for my teammates. And then I was just happy to be in a playoff. I hit a great drive on that playoff hole. I hit my second shot just off the green, about 18-feet from the hole. Coach (Peletier) helped me read it. I just wanted to put a good stroke on it. I did. And it went in. And it was crazy."

It was a special moment for Ting. It was an even more special moment for Anghelescu. And she will have other moments after these three days of the C-USA Championship. Ting will not.

This is her farewell tournament. This is her bittersweet moment.

"I started playing golf when I was 11," Ting said. "My dad and my brother were playing. I played well in high school and, in my last year, I talked to Coach. It took me awhile to adjust, just kind of getting to know everything. In the beginning I was homesick every day.

"But this is such a good environment to play golf," she said.

She paused, laughed and said, "Now, when I go home, about one month is all I can stay. Then I want to come back here and play golf."

Ting, who made the Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll, will graduate in May of 2019. She already has next year planned, though. And it still includes golf.

"I will practice with the team every day and play a few tournaments around the country," she said. "Maybe the LPGA qualifying tournament. My plan is to work on my game and then turn pro after I graduate. I'm excited about it."

Valeria Mendizabal, a freshman from Guatamala City, Guatamala, is following in Ting's footsteps. This is her first college season.

"Last semester I was pretty homesick," she said. "But then we were playing golf and I learned so many things from my teammates. It's been pretty cool to fly around the United States, see so many new places and being able to play golf on all these courses.

"I've learned so much from June," she said. "Work hard, stay positive. And I know if we all do these things, we can win this tournament."

Pelletier said, "This is a good group of girls. They are hard working and fun to coach. They want to learn, they want to get better and they want to win. Old Dominion is a top 60 team and they will be tough. And there are four teams in the top 100.

"It would be a surprise if we won," Peletier said. "But it won't be that big a surprise. We've shown we can shoot those scores. Now we've got to put those scores on the board."

Ting, Anghelescu and Mendizabal will be joined by junior Lily Downs and sophomore Shannon O'Dwyer in this chase for a championship.

It begins Monday.

And, on Monday morning, June Ting will tee up that little white ball, tee it up for one of the final times as a collegian, as a UTEP Miner.

It is both bitter and sweet.

Bill Knight may be reached at 546-6171; bknight@elpasotimes.com; @BillKnightept on Twitter.

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