MIAMI (WSVN) - A Florida International University athlete has received an invitation to be part of the United States Women’s Open Championship.

Hawaii native Karissa Kilby chose to play college golf for the university and has become the first Panther since 2017 to be invited to play in the Women’s Open.

Kilby said she has always wanted to make her way out of her hometown and make newer and bigger experiences for herself.

“I mean, I think South Florida is kind of a paradise of its own,” said Kilby. “I always knew I wanted to get out of Hawaii and go experience bigger things for college and for college golf. The only thing is it’s kind of a trip to go back home, so I only go home for like summer and Christmas, but I really don’t mind; it’s a beautiful place.”

When it came to speaking about qualifying to participate and playing in the Women’s Open she said after many years of hard work she put in, she is excited for the accomplishment.

“I have been playing for the qualifier every year since I was 13, so that makes this six years now,” said Kilby. “At this point, I’m just stoked for the experience, and I’m excited to see what I can do out there. I expect it to be challenging, obviously, but I’m just really grateful for the opportunity and to be around such a good environment. I don’t think it gets much better than this.”

As for being one of the youngest FIU athletes to represent the university at the Championship, she hopes to represent the university well.

“I mean, I hope to do a good job representing FIU. I’m really excited for where the golf program is heading,” said Kilby. “Hopefully, I can inspire, motivate all of us to put it together and to play well this year.”

The tournament begins Thursday in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

Kilby will tee off just after 12:30 p.m.

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