Sept. 17, 2008
Lobos Women Golf
What: Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational
When: 8 a.m. tee times Thursday and Friday; shotgun start Saturday at 8 a.m.
Where: UNM Championship Course
Teams: Lobos, BYU, Campbell, Colorado, Colorado State, Hawaii, Indiana, New Mexico State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, TCU, Texas, UC-Davis, UNLV, UTEP, Wyoming.
By Richard Stevens Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The turf thing in athletics isn't just a football or basketball thing. The Lobos women golfers have a "house" to protect, too. It's called the UNM Championship Course and when enemy golfers step onto the Lobos' lawn, the UNM golfers want to do exactly what all other Lobos like to do: kick butt.
"We had a little meeting and talked about it," said Jill Trujillo, the second-year University of New Mexico women's golf coach. "Other teams get to play on their home court or field, but they have multiple games and multiple chances to defend their turf.
"We only have one tournament and one chance to win on our turf and we get really pumped up for it. And we have to beat 15 other teams so maybe that gets us even more pumped up for it."
The 15 teams that invade the Lobos' turf will be playing in the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational with tee times at 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday and a shotgun start Saturday at 8 at the UNM Championship Course.
The Lobos have to be considered one of the teams to beat with the home-course knowledge and a preseason ranking of No. 19 in Golfweek. But Pepperdine, winners of the McGuire in 2005, carries the top ranking into the tourney at No. 8. The two dark horses in the 54-hole race probably go down as TCU with a No. 23 ranking and UNLV at No. 27.
The Lobos also are hoping to use a successful run in the McGuire to tap out any residue of a bad memory produced in UNM's last outing on the golf course. The 2007 Mountain West Conference champs failed to make it out of the NCAA regionals and into the NCAA finals = failed by one shot.
Now, in golf it's usually a good thing to forget the past, much like you need to forget a bogey or a missed tap-in putt on the previous hole. Trujillo said that tourney is "in the past," but the lessons and the motivation produced from an opportunity lost is something that is still very much a part of this 2008-09 Lobos team.
"We missed by one shot and I think that might have been a blessing in disguise," said Trujillo. "I think it really helped to bring us together as a team.
"Each one of our five players felt responsible for that one shot. It could have been a missed 3-foot putt, a bogey here or there and everyone of them felt responsible so we ended up taking it on our shoulders as a team. Each one of us comforted one another and we just really came together.
"After the emotional part was over, you have to realize that these things happen, but you also are aware that you aren't happy about it and you become determined never to let it happen again."
Trujillo said she likes the talent and the depth on this season's squad. Her five-player team for the McGuire is Mikaela Backstedt, Britney Choy, Jodi Ewart, Morgan Grantham and Rebecca Hellbom. Erin Miller and Sarah Salvo will play as individuals.
"We are very excited about this team," said Trujillo. "I expect it to be a very good team. The girls are ready to play. They have been waiting for this moment and it's been quite a while since we have won (the McGuire)."
The 2008 McGuire definitely will crown a new champion as the 2006 champions, Arizona State, are not in the field. The McGuire was not played in 2007 due to the Lobos hosting the NCAA Preview. The Lobos finished sixth in 2006, but have won the McGuire team title six times, including a three-year sweep from 2001-2003. Four Lobos have captured the individual crown: Pat Park (1962-63), Kristi Albers (1984), Tracy May (1994) and Kailin Down (2003).
Ewart, then a UNM freshman, paced UNM in 2006 by tying for ninth place with a 1-under par 218 (74-74-70). It was Ewart's first tournament as a Lobo.
Trujillo said that even though her Lobos are "pumped" to win the 2008 McGuire, the excitement and emotion is not something the Lobos plan to take onto the course.
"Beforehand and after, you show some emotion," said Trujillo. "But when you are on the course, it's more about controlling your emotions and being mentally tough."
Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner