ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Tarleton State's Isabel Jimenez-Parea was on the brink of turning in a rare under-par score in the second round of Thursday’s NCAA Division II Women’s Championship.
A double-bogey on her final hole derailed the junior standout’s opportunity, but she played well enough to put herself near the top of the leaderboard.
Jimenez-Parea shot a 1-over 73 at Grand Valley State’s The Meadows and is currently tied for third with Indianapolis’ Brooke Beagle and Chanice Young at +6 (150).
She is three shots behind second-round leader Brenna Moore of Midwestern State, who also carded a 73 and stands at +3 (147). First-round leader Madison Lellyo is at +4 (148).
“The golf course was a lot better today because it dried out a little bit,” Jimenez-Perea said. “I played a lot better, but this golf course is really tricky and it can get you anywhere. I had a couple of good shots, and I’m happy overall, just disappointed about this last hole.”
Her pitching wedge carried over the green, and after a poor chip, she two-putted for her only double-bogey of the round.
“I chipped out of that bunker too hard and almost went into the water, but it went into the long rough,” Jimenez-Perea said. “I flew the green and then I wasn’t in a good position and chipped bad.”
Jimenez-Parea shot 77 in the opening round, but started hot Thursday with back-to-back birdies on her first two holes. She drained a long putt at No. 2 to gain confidence.
“I was happy about that because I think I only had one birdie [Wednesday],” Jimenez-Parea said. “It’s really hard to make birdies out here so I was happy that I started really good. I’m happy with where I’m at.”
Tarleton State coach Jerry Doyle was pleased to see his No. 1 player bounce back from a lackluster first round.
“She played a whole lot better than she’s played lately and she putted better,” Doyle said. “She’s been having problems putting, but she got going off the right foot on the first couple holes and she stayed in there.”
Jimenez-Parea grew up in Madrid, Spain and started playing golf when she was 7. She prepped at Ortega y Gasset School before earning a scholarship to Tarleton State and coming to the United States.
She played junior golf in Madrid and has competed all across Europe. She said The Meadows is similar to courses she’s played in Northern Europe.
“The courses in the United States are a lot different, but his one reminds me of North Europe," Jimenez-Parea said. "It isn’t a links course, but there are not a lot of trees and it has a lot of tall grass and bunkers in the fairways.”
One of Jimenez-Parea’s teammates, sophomore Beatriz Prados, also is from Madrid, and the pair attended the same school and played golf together.
“She told me to come here and join the team,” said Prados, whose boyfriend is Arizona State’s Jon Rahm, the No. 1-ranked amateur in the country. “We live in the same house and I’m really happy here. The coach is really nice and the whole team gets along super good.”
Prados and Rahm began dating in high school and have been together four years.
“He’s a very hard worker and he’s amazing,” Prados said. “He always wants to get better and he always spends time practicing. When I see him, he always wants to go to the golf course.”
Meanwhile, Jimenez-Perea has endured an inconsistent season, but hopes to end her season on a high note in the next two days.
“I haven’t played too bad, but I think I could’ve done better,” she said. “It’s been up-and-down, but I’m playing here and that’s all that matters. It’s our last tournament, and I just want to play well and try my best. I don’t want to put pressure on me.”
Doyle believes Jimenez-Perea can stay in the hunt with a pair of solid rounds.
“If she can shoot right around par the next couple days then she can have a good chance to at least place in the top five,” he said. “She’s been struggling a little bit, and hasn’t played her best golf, but she’s a great player and can overcome some of those things.”
Tarleton State currently is tied for fourth with Lynn. Indianapolis has a 16-stroke lead on Rollins and Central Oklahoma entering Friday's third round.