April 3, 2018
By Brad Muller | More Features
South Carolina senior Ainhoa Olarra will have the opportunity to represent her school and her native Spain in a unique Ryder Cup-style competition this summer. Olarra was selected as one of six female international student-athletes who will compete as a member of the international team against a team of college golfers from the United States at the Arnold Palmer Cup at the Evian Resort Club in France on July 6-8.
"I was really excited when I found out," Olarra said. "This is a great way to end my college career. I'll be representing South Carolina, but also an international team. There are great players on both teams. This is going to be a great experience. I don't know that I could finish my college career in a better way. It's an experience that no one else has had because this is the first time women will play."
"It's the first year the girls have been invited in it, so it's a huge honor for her," added South Carolina women's golf coach Kalen Anderson. "It's well-deserved. She has been a consistent player and has established herself as one of the best young players in the world. We're very proud of her, and we're glad she can be there to represent our school, so it's a big honor for us as well."
This is one of the highest honors you can have as an amateur collegiate golfer.
The Arnold Palmer Cup began in 1997 and was co-founded by Arnold Palmer and The Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA), but this is the first year that participants will include women golfers on the USA and International teams, making it the first major tournament featuring men and women playing side-by-side as partners.
"It's been a huge, prestigious event for the men, so to have the women included in that kind of event, it speaks well for where women's golf is going," Anderson said. "It's great for us as a school, and it's great for Ainhoa."
Olarra has been a big part of South Carolina's continued success at the national level, having reached the NCAA Championships in each of her previous three seasons with the Gamecocks. She earned honorable mention All-American honors last year from the Women's Golf Coaches Association and Golfweek, and was also a second team All-SEC selection last year.
"This is one of the highest honors you can have as an amateur collegiate golfer," Anderson said. "It's an elite selection. Hopefully this will open up some doors for her as it's another opportunity to compete at the highest level against the best in the world."
The Evian Resort Club is located on the Shores of Lake Geneva, at the foot of the Alps, and Olarra had the good fortune of playing there previously as a teenager.
"The course is just amazing, so I am just happy to play there again," Olarra said. "I love match play, and I love being a part of a team like I have been at South Carolina. This is the kind of tournament that everyone would like to play."
"I really just want to enjoy the time and the experience. I'm looking forward to being around all of those great golfers. I know a lot of them because we've played against them many times, whether they are on the international team or the American team. It's going to be a unique experience."
Before she takes off for France this summer, Olarra continues her career with a South Carolina team that has won three straight NCAA Regional Championships on the way to the NCAA Championships.
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