Sept. 20, 2008
Back and forth they went, but in the end it was New Mexico outlasting Pepperdine to come away with the team title at the 29th Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational at the UNM Championship Course.
Tied at the start of the day, the 19th-ranked Lobos edged No. 8 Pepperdine by four shots with solid play down the stretch. UNM shot a final round 287 - 5-under and its lowest of the three rounds played - and was the only team under par in the 16-team field at 872.
It was a sweep for New Mexico as junior Jodi Ewart took the individual title. Trailing UNLV's Natasha Krishna by one shot with three holes to play, Ewart birdied the par-4 16th while Krishna took a bogey at her next-to-last hole.
Ewart shot a 1-under 72 for a 54-hole total of 6-under 213. Six-under is Ewart's best score as a Lobo in relation to par. It's also her third individual championship while at UNM, equaling Dana Howe for No. 2 on the school's all-time victory list. Caroline Keggi is the career leader, winning four from 1985-87.
While Ewart was her usual steady self, it was a pair of Swedes that pushed UNM to its seventh McGuire title overall and fourth in the past seven tournaments. The Lobos won three in a row from 2001-03.
Playing in her first collegiate tournament, freshman Rebecca Hellbom today fired a 3-under 70 to finish in a tie for 10th at 2-over 221. Hellbom - a native of Vasteras, Sweden, made consecutive birdies at 16 and 17 to provide the Lobos with some breathing room at the top.
Mikaela Backstedt's game did not look good early. A triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 6th placed the Lobo senior at 5-over after the first four holes. However, she played the remaining 14 holes in 5-under to finish the round at even-par 73. Backstedt, a native of Ljunghusen, Swden, birdied four of the last six holes.
Junior Britney Choy improved each round. After an opening-day 75, Choy shot 73 Friday and a 1-under 72 today to finish in a tie for 8th at 1-over 220.
New Mexico led by three shots midway through the front side. Pepperdine got hot at the turn, though, taking a 1-shot advantage when four golfers combined to make seven birdies over a four-hole stretch. Jessica Wallace led the Waves' charge with birdies at Nos. 9, 11 and 12.
UNM answered as Ewart and Choy each birdied the par-3 12th to regain the lead by a stroke.
The Lobos won both the McGuire team and individual titles for the fourth time. Pat Park and UNM won it all in 1962-63 while Kailin Downs took medalist honors in 2003. It's the 16th overall team title for New Mexico women's golf since 2001, and its third in the past five tournaments under 2nd-year head coach Jill Trujillo.