The Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational women's collegiate golf tournament will be Sept. 23-24 at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan, Kan. The event, which rotates annually between Lawrence and Manhattan, honors the legacy of women's golf pioneer Marilynn Smith.
Smith, a Kansas native and University of Kansas alum, was one of the original 13 founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Smith remains active in the golf world today by teaching at the Firewheel Golf Club in Dallas and by participating in a variety of areas related to the LPGA.
Smith enjoyed an immensely successful amateur and professional career. She won the Kansas Women's Amateur Championship from 1946-1948. Her career at KU culminated with the 1949 National Collegiate Individual title.
Following her collegiate title, Smith turned professional. She won 22 times on the LPGA tour. From 1954-72, she won at least one event in 14 of 19 years on the tour.
"Marilynn Smith has had an immense impact on women's golf and she is the reason KU even has a golf team," Kansas head coach Erin O'Neil said. "Without her influence women's golf at KU or on any level would not be where it is today."
The KU women's golf program has done a remarkable job of honoring Smith's legacy by compiling a strong record at the Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational over the years. The Jayhawks are defending champs and have won the Marilynn Smith four times: 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2012. Last year KU outdistanced runner-up Arkansas State by 21 strokes at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence.
O'Neil has coached two KU golfers to the Marilynn Smith Invitational individual title. Emily Powers took the title in 2008 and Grace Thiry won in 2010.
This year, Kansas sophomore Yupaporn Kawinkaporn looks to add her name to that list after starting her fall season off with a second-place finish at the Cardinal Cup last week in Louisville.
"Everyone in our lineup is playing well and I think it's only a matter of time before we really put together some outstanding rounds where everyone is shooting low numbers," O'Neil said.
As a team, KU will bring three golfers to this year's event who placed in the top-10 of the 2012 Marilynn Smith Invitational at Alvamar. Redshirt senior Thanuttra Boonraksasat placed second (221, +5), sophomore Yupaporn Kawinpakorn placed fifth (223, +7), and junior Gabby DiMarco placed seventh (228, +12) at the 2012 event.
Kansas's 2013 Marilynn Smith Lineup
Michelle Woods (individual)
Gabriella DiMarco (individual)
Tournament Quick Facts
The 2013 Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational will be held at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan, Kan. The 15-team field will play three rounds on the par-72, 6,181-yard Colbert Hills course starting with 36 holes on Monday, culminating with an 18-hole final round on Tuesday.
The field consists of 15 teams from eight conferences:
Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
Colorado State (Mountain West)
Creighton (Missouri Valley)
Kansas State (Big 12)
Nebraska (Big Ten)
New Mexico St. (WAC)
North Texas (C-USA)
Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)
Oral Roberts (Southland)
Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley)
Wichita State (Missouri Valley)