Top NZ amateur returning from the US for Windross Farm

By Paul Gueorgieff
Golfer Pacific editor
Julianne Alvarez. PHOTO: University of Washington/GPNZ File

Julianne Alvarez. PHOTO: University of Washington/GPNZ File

Julianne Alvarez is returning from the United States to play in the New Zealand Women’s Open.
The top New Zealand amateur has been based in the US for the last two years on a golf scholarship at the University of Washington.
Last year she became part of the university’s history. She played a pivotal role when the university’s women’s golf team won, for the first time, the National Collegiate Athletic Assocation (NCAA) championship, the most prized trophy in American university golf.
Alvarez, who has won two New Zealand Amateurs and a New Zealand Strokeplay, was due to arrive back in the country on September 14 and will return to Seattle in Washington after the New Zealand Open to continue her education at the university.
Alvarez said she will spend a total of four years at the University of Washington and is enjoying every moment.
``I’ve been at Washington for two years now and I love it,’’ Alvarez told Golfer Pacific.
``The course and competition we play week in and week out, as well as the resources and facilities we have access to,  are world class.
``The people that I get to hang out with every day, my teammates, make the whole experience that much more enjoyable.’’
Alvarez will return to New Zealand on the back of experiencing the highs and lows of golf in the probably the world’s top women’s amateur golf tournament.
That was the US Women’s Amateur in which last month she was the second-top qualifier after two rounds of strokeplay and hopes would have been high for the matchplay section of the event.
But in her first round match she was comprehensively beaten 5 and 4 by the 63rd top qualifier, a 13-year-old from  Taiwan.
``I was pretty disappointed, it’s not what you want, especially after seeding second in the qualifying rounds,’’ she said.
``But at that stage of the competition everyone has the game to beat anyone. It was awesome being able to compete at that level and I learned a lot from that loss that will make me a greater player in the future.’'
Alvarez played in the New Zealand Opens of 2014 and 2015 as a teenager and missed the cut each time.
This year’s open at Windross Farm golf course in south Auckland has for the first time become part of the world’s richest golf circuit, the LPGA Tour. It carries prizemoney of $US1.3 million and many of the world’s top players will be competing, including our own Lydia Ko.
It will be a tall order for Alvarez but she said there was no reason why her goal was to win.
``Whenever you play a tournament, you want to win,’’ she said.
``I feel as though over the last year my game has really matured and I intend to be really competitive during this event.
``I am also looking to gain more experience, we’re really fortunate now that the New Zealand Women’s Open has become an LPGA event so I am looking forward to how the event differs from other professional events that I have played.’’
Alvarez follows the fortunes of Ko in the US closely, having previously played against her in New Zealand many times and being a teammate of hers when representing the country in events like the Espirito Santo Trophy.
She said the pressure to perform must be immense for Ko.
``She has been struggling in recent times. There has been a lot of pressure on her to perform. I guess being as good as she is and perhaps that pressure may be getting to her a little but regardless, she’s an extremely talented player and I’m sure she’ll figure it out.’'
Alvarez said she plans to join Ko on the professional golf circuit eventually.
``Yes the plan is to turn professional once I graduate.’'