June 14, 2004
The 2003-04 New Mexico women's golf team provided the Lobo program with one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Lobos claimed four tournament titles and placed in the top 10 in 10 of their 11 tournaments. UNM achieved national recognition, ranking in the top 10 for 33 consecutive weeks, including a lofty No. 3 rating in March. New Mexico steamrolled into the postseason for the 12th consecutive year with a No. 4 seed, and made its 12th appearance at the NCAA Championships, tying for 15th at the nation's elite tournament.
Individually, the Lobos again racked up several accolades. Katrina Leckovic, Kailin Downs, Shannon Johnson and Ashley Rollins were named to the All-Mountain West Conference team, and Rollins was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year. Downs earned MWC Golfer of the Month honors twice (September and February), and Leckovic captured the award in November.
Downs established herself as one of the nation's premier collegiate golfers, garnering honorable mention All-America honors for the second straight season in addition to receiving the 2004 Edith Cummings Munson Golf Award, which is presented by the NGCA to an individual based on academic and athletic achievement.
Leckovic, a senior, claimed the UNM career scoring-average record by compiling a 75.34 average during her three years, besting the previous mark of 75.8. The Burnaby, British Columbia native, who was one of eight players selected to the Canadian Ladies' Golf Association National Amateur Team in February, also set the senior scoring-average mark with a 74.65.
In the final Golf Week rankings, UNM finished No. 6 in the nation with a 73.27 rating. All five Lobo starters finished the season ranked in the top 100 (Downs - 32nd; Rollins - 52nd; Leckovic - 53rd; Johnson - T85th; Christine Fernandez - T85th).
The Lobos wrapped up the fall season with three tournament titles and two individuals taking medalist honors. The Lobos claimed the Dick McGuire Invitational (Sept. 25-27) at their home course in Albuquerque, the Landfall Tradition (Oct. 31-Nov. 2) in Wilmington, N.C., and the Las Vegas Vegas Founders Women's Collegiate Showdown (Nov. 10-12) in Henderson, Nev. UNM repeated as champions of the Vegas Showdown and won its third consecutive McGuire Invitational.
Downs tied the 54-hole record at the McGuire Invitational with a score of 70-68-74-212 (-7) en route to claiming her first career individual championship. Leckovic took home her second career title with a two-stroke win at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown.
The Lobos also had strong showings at their other two tournaments. New Mexico opened the season at the NCAA Preview (Sept. 12-14) in Opelika, Ala., site of the 2004 NCAA Women's Golf Championships. The tournament gave the Lobos a chance to play the difficult course with some of the nation's top teams, as 17 of the 18 teams were ranked in the preseason Top 25. The Lobos finished strong in the last round of the tournament to finish ninth overall. UNM placed fifth at the Stanford Intercollegiate Oct. 17-19.
New Mexico picked up right where it left off in the fall in its four spring tournaments. The Lobos began the spring by placing second in the highly loaded Regional Challenge field, finishing ahead of five top-10 teams. After their impressive performance at the Regional Challenge (Feb. 9-11), the Lobos vaulted to No. 3 in the national rankings. UNM responded to the ranking with a convincing 29-stroke win at the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational (March 16-17) in Hawai'i. The Lobos placed third at the Ping/Arizona State Invitational (April 2-4) in their next tournament.
Although the Lobos came up short in their quest for a fifth straight Mountain West title, they did place second in the MWC Championships after shooting a season-best 858 overall and 277 in the final round. UNM was a rewarded with a No. 4 seed in the 63-team NCAA field.
Four Lobos were rewarded for their efforts and earned All-Mountain West honors. Downs and Leckovic each made the team for the third straight year, while Johnson garnered all-conference honors for the second year in a row. Rollins was named the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in addition to earning All-MWC accolades.
After their remarkable regular season, the Lobos marched in the postseason for the 12th consecutive year, only this time, they had a target on their back. UNM entered the 63-team NCAA field as the No. 4 overall seed, the highest in school history.
New Mexico, the second-highest seeded team in the Central Regional, led after the first day of competition, and appeared to be coasting toward the NCAA Championships. The second day proved difficult for UNM, however, and the Lobos fell into a tie for seventh. Needing to place in the top eight to reach nationals, the Lobos gutted out a clutch third-day performance, remaining in seventh to reach yet another team goal - advancing to the NCAA Championships.
The Lobos were poised to show the country the team's ability at nationals, and were determined to make a statement in front of a national audience. UNM made a serious run on day two, and completed the second round in ninth place, within striking distance of a top-five finish. Unfortunately, the Lobos fell out of the top-10 on the third day, and finished the championships in a tie for 15th place.
Although the Lobos fell short of their ultimate goal of a national championship, the team was well recognized at the end of the season. Downs, who set a junior record at UNM with a 73.91 scoring average, garnered honorable mention All-America honors for the second straight season, and also received the prestigious Edith Cummings Munson Golf Award at the national awards banquet. She was also named a NGCA Scholar-Athlete for the third straight year in addition to being selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-America third team. Rollins, who established a UNM freshman record with a 74.62 scoring average, also earned NGCA Scholar-Athlete honors.
While the 2003-04 season was filled with tournament victories and numerous player honors, the future looks even brighter for New Mexico. The Lobos return four of their five starters for the 2004-05 season and have added exceptional depth to the lineup with solid recruiting. The nation began to recognize the staying power of the Lobo program in 2003-04, and the highly ranked Lobos aren't about to begin falling out of the national spotlight anytime soon.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE - The Lobos finished the season ranked No. 6 in the Golf Week/Sagarin rankings. UNM was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation this season, and was ranked in the top 10 for 33 consecutive weeks.
Individually, all five Lobo starters finished the season ranked in the top 100 (Kailin Downs - 32nd; Ashley Rollins - 52nd; Katrina Leckovic - 53rd; Shannon Johnson - T85th; Christine Fernandez - T85th).
BY THE NUMBERS -
-- New Mexico made its 12th appearance at the NCAA Championships (1982, '83, '84, '85, '87, '88, '93, '95, '96, '98, 2001, 2004)
-- New Mexico entered the 63-team NCAA field as the No. 4 seed, the highest in school history
-- The Lobos won four tournament titles (Dick McGuire Invitational; Landfall Tradition; Las Vegas Founders Women's Collegiate Showdown; Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational)
-- The Lobos were ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation (March 8)
-- Four Lobos earned All-Mountain West honors, the most of any team in the conference
-- New Mexico has made 12 straight postseason appearances
-- UNM was 121-36-3 vs. all-opponents in tournament play
-- The Lobos were 41-33-3 vs. Top 25 opponents; 91-36-3 vs. Top 50 opponents; and 116-36-3 vs. Top 100 opponents
-- UNM's schedule was ranked the 19th most difficult in the nation
PLAYER NOTES -
DOWNS GARNERS HONORABLE MENTION ALL-AMERICA HONORS - Junior Kailin Downs earned honorable mention All-America honors for the second straight season after setting a new UNM junior record with a 73.91 scoring average. She also owns the sophomore record (74.1). Downs was the 2004 recipient of the Edith Cummings Munson Award, which is presented by the NGCA to an individual based on academic and athletic achievement. She boasted a 3.82 GPA in General Management to earn NGCA Scholar-Athlete honors for the third straight season and also earned a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-America third team.
Downs was named the MWC Women's Golfer of the Month in September after winning her first career tournament at the Dick McGuire Invitational and Co-MWC Golfer of the Month in February after placing fourth at the Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge. She has won the award five times in her career. Downs was the only player in the conference to earn Golfer of the Month honors twice in 2002-03 (September and April). As a freshman, Downs garnered Golfer of the Month honors in October of 2001.
Downs finished the season ranked No. 32 in the nation by Golf Week and No. 29 by Golf Stat. In addition to her win at the McGuire, Downs placed in a tie for second at the Landfall Tradition and Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational. Overall, she has placed in the top-five on 12 occasions during her career.
The two-time Mountain West Player of the Year was named one of the Top 10 players in the nation to watch (No. 7) by Golf Digest and a preseason All-American by Golf Week. Downs was named to the All-Mountain West team for her third straight year. She was recently named to Team USA for the U.S. vs. Japan Collegiate Golf Championship held July 13-16 in Chiba, Japan.
LECKOVIC LEAVES UNM IN RECORD FASHION - Senior Katrina Leckovic leaves the University of New Mexico with the best career scoring average in school history. Leckovic shot for a 75.34 average over 92 rounds during her three years at UNM, besting the previous mark of 75.8 held by Ryley Webb and Caroline Keggi. She saved her best season for last, establishing a UNM senior record with a 74.65 average in 2003-04.
Leckovic earned All-Mountain West accolades for the third consecutive season after placing in a tie for second at the Mountain West Championships with a career-tying score of 213. She claimed medalist honors at the 2003 MWC Championships and also earned all-conference honors in 2002.
Leckovic tied her personal-best score of 213 at the Las Vegas Founders Collegiate Showdown (Nov. 10-12), which was good for first place and her second career tournament championship. For her efforts, she was named the MWC Golfer of the Month for November. Leckovic had three other top-10 finishes this season, placing ninth at both the McGuire Invitational and Stanford Intercollegiate, and placing 10th at the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational.
The Burnaby, British Columbia, native closed the season ranked No. 53 by Golf Week and No. 57 by Golf Stat. In February, Leckovic was one of eight players selected to the Canadian Ladies' Golf Association National Amateur Team.
ASHLEY'S ROLLIN' - Heralded freshman Ashley Rollins, who made the cut at the 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur and won all four of her matches at the AJGA Canor Cup, lived up to the hype in her first season as a Lobo. Rollins established a new freshman record at New Mexico with a 74.62 scoring average and finished the season ranked No. 52 in the nation by Golf Week and No. 54 by Golf Stat. She was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year and also earned All-MWC honors.
One of the top recruits in Coach Booth's tenure, Rollins tied for 15th in her first tournament at NCAA Preview and followed that effort with a seventh-place finish at the Dick McGuire Invitational. She had another top-10 showing at the Landfall Tradition, where she placed in a tie for eighth. In the second tournament of the spring season, Rollins delivered a season-best sixth place showing at the Dr. Thompson Rainbow Invitational. In her last regular season outing, she had a season-best score of 2-over 218 at the Ping/Arizona State Invitational to tie for ninth, earning freshman low-score honors. Rollins also fired a hole-in-one in the fall on the par-3 17th hole at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? - Junior Shannon Johnson may have a common last name, but is no ordinary collegiate golfer. Johnson, who has been ranked in the top 100 all season, finished the season ranked No. 85 in the nation by Golf Week and No. 90 by Golf Stat with a 75.38 scoring average. The Sioux Falls, S.D., native posted her best career finish this season at the Mountain West Championships, placing in a tie for second after carding a career-low 213. For her efforts, she was named to the All-Mountain West team for the second consecutive season. Johnson has six top-20 finishes this season.
SEEKING GREENER PASTURES IN NEW MEXICO - Sophomore transfer Christine Fernandez, who attended the University of Tulsa in 2002-03, was a welcome addition to the 2003-04 Lobo squad.
Fernandez finished in the top 10 in three tournaments this season, including a career-best tie for second at the Dr. Thompson Invitational in Hawai'i, where she shot a season-low round of 68 in the second round. She also placed in the top 10 at the Las Vegas Founders Women's Collegiate Showdown and shot a season-low 219 to tie for ninth at the Mountain West Championships. The Henderson, Nev., native was the Lobos' top finisher at the NCAA Championships, carding a 7-over 295 to tie for 33rd. Fernandez finished the season ranked No. 85 in the nation by Golf Week and No. 77 by Golf Stat.
NEWMAN ALSO SHINING IN THE CLASSROOM -Senior Kellyn Newman, who competed as an individual in three tournaments this season, is also an excellent student in the classroom. Newman was named a 2003 NGCA Scholar-Athlete last season, and this year was featured as a "Champion in the Classroom" in the KKOB-770 AM academic series that aired during the school year.
SPENCE IMPROVING EACH YEAR - Junior Christina Spence, who garnered All-MWC accolades in 2002-03, has improved her scoring average each season at UNM. Spence, who shot for a 77.0 average her freshman year and 76.1 last year, is currently at 76.0 this season. She earned her first start of the season at the Ping/Arizona State Invitational, placing in a tie for 44th. Spence shot a career-best 221 at last fall's Dick McGuire Invitational to tie for eighth place as an individual.
NEW ADDITION - Freshman Giselle Claux, a native of Lima, Peru, joined the Lobos for the spring season after sitting out fall competition. A talented golfer with international experience, Claux competed for the Peruvian National Team in several Junior South American tournaments. She placed fourth at the 2003 Junior South American tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay.
UNM AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS:
LOBOS FINISH SEASON WITH 15TH-PLACE SHOWING AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (May 18-21) - The New Mexico women's golf team came short in its quest for a national title, but capped a spectacular season by placing in a tie for 15th at the NCAA Championships. The Lobos placed in the top 20 at nationals with a score of 304-292-304-297--1197 (+45). UCLA claimed the national title with a 289-283-286-290--1148 (-4).
Christine Fernandez shot the best round for the Lobos on the last day, carding a 1-under 71. She finished at 7-over for the championships with a score of 79-73-72-71--293.
Kailin Downs shot a 1-over 73 in the final round to finish at 76-71-76-73--296 (+8). Katrina Leckovic was 16-over at 74-75-78-77--304 and Ashley Rollins was 18-over at 75-73-79-79--306 (+18). Shannon Johnson carded a 79-75-78-76--308 (+20) for the championships.