By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It’s not that fall golf isn’t a serious time on the links and it’s not that the individual cards and the team scores don’t matter in September and October. They do.
But it’s also fair to say that spring golf represents a step up for all golfers and all golf teams and Lobo Coach Jill Trujillo is expecting that step up from her 2013-14 New Mexico women’s golf team.
Which means that the break between fall and spring ball is an important time to put in the work needed to see improvement. In other words: practice, practice, practice.
“In the fall, you are trying to figure out a few things. You are trying to get a team to mesh on several levels,” said Trujillo. “The spring is about getting the best team out there for tournament play. The spring is more about the scorecard.”
Trujillo’s Lobos had some nice scorecards in the fall particularly from senior Sammi Stevens. She was runner-up in the Colonel Wollenberg Ptarmigan Colorado State Ram Classic and was the only golfer in the field to go under 70 twice. Stevens had the low round of the day on the first 18 holes and the low round on the final 18 holes.
“Sammi is playing really well,” said Trujillo. “She is in the hunt to have an All-American year.”
The Lobos obviously have a senior leader in Stevens, who also leads with her clubs. She is ranked No. 32 nationally and will bring a 71.91 average into spring play which begins Feb. 9-11 in Orlando, Fla. Her stroke average is 2.36 shots better than senior Manon DeRoey, who will carry a 74.27 average into spring ball. Stevens posted a 69.25 average over her last round in UNM’s four fall events.
But Stevens needs a little more help from her friends.
“Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the fall,” said Trujillo. “We still have a little work to do figuring out how to all come together at the same time. It takes all five playing well for us to have a good tournament. Pretty much, in our four fall tournaments, we had two or three play well and two or three who didn’t play so well.
"I'm still waiting to see what happens when we post four incredible scores."
The Lobo talent obviously is there. DeRoey is the defending Mountain West individual champion. She won the Ram Classic in 2012. Senior Sofia Hoglund is a former Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire champion. Trujillo has some talented first-year Lobos.
But the key to winning golf as a team is to have that talent produce at the same time. “In golf, you have to come together at the right time and win as a team,” said Stevens.
A team’s goal on the scorecard can be adjusted by course and weather, but there are some loose guidelines. You want your five individuals to be below 75 over 18 holes while hoping a few golfers go low. The top four scores form a team total. If you have four golfers card a 75, your team score is 300.
If you want to win a golf tournament, you have to go even lower.
The highest 18-hole team total by a winning team in the three 54-hole tournaments UNM completed in the fall was 291. The lowest 18-hole score was 275. UNM had two rounds under 300 at the Betsey Rawls Longhorn Invitational in Austin, Texas, and finished tied for 14th place. UCLA won the tournament with rounds of 281, 286 and a smoking 275.
Stevens showed her national status at Austin with a fourth-place finish at seven-under. DeRoey finished a respectable 34th finishing with rounds of 73 and 72. No other Lobo cracked 76. The Lobos’ challenge over the break between the fall and spring schedule is simple enough: Get better, shoot lower scores.
“We’ll do more mental work with the freshmen and make sure our seniors concentrate on finishing their final year,” said Trujillo. “A lot of times a senior will have one foot out the door looking ahead to their futures (with or without competitive golf).
“I expect a lot from my seniors, but I think we have three seniors who are ready to finish spring the right way.”
An obvious key for New Mexico’s spring is the play of Trujillo’s first-year Lobos: Freshmen Katerina Jaeger, Manon Molle', Eva Saulnier and Kalyn Thayer and senior transfer Dea Mahendra from Landers University.
Molle and Jaeger played in all four fall tournaments and finished with stroke averages of 76.55 and 77.82, respectively. Thayer played in two tournaments and had an average of 81.17. Hoglund played four tournaments with an average round of 78.09 and Mahendra played in one tourney that produced an 80.00 average.
Saulnier didn’t play in the fall and becomes eligible in January. “We’re not sure what to expect from Eva until we see her on a day-to-day basis,” said Trujillo. “But we expect her to push the other players.”
An interesting battle should continue this spring between three golfers who (in the fall) established themselves as the “Big Three” in the Mountain West. UNLV’s Dana Finkelstein has a 71.64 average, San Diego State’s Sirene Blair is at 71.82 and UNM’s Stevens is at 71.91.
The Mountain West has five teams in the Top 100: SDSU (37), UNLV (47), UNM (65), San Jose State (80) and Nevada (95).
The Lobos won the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown in 2002 and 2003. Indiana won the tourney in 2012, but is not back to defend. “
Lobo Top Five Golfers from Fall Competition
|Name||18-hole Rounds||Low-18||Stroke Average|
|Sammi Stevens -- Senior||11.0||67||71.91|
|Manon De Roey -- Senior||11.0||70||74.27|
|Sofia Hoglund -- Senior||11.0||74||78.09|
|Manon Molle' -- Freshman||11.0||71||76.55|
|Katerina Jaeger -- Freshman||11.0||75||77.82|
New Mexico Lobos 2014 Women's Golf Spring Schedule
Feb. 9-11: Central Florida Challenge -- Orlando, Fla.
March 3-4: Julie Inkster Spartan Invitational – San Jose, Calif.
March 17-18: Fresno State Lexus Classic – Fresno, Calif.
March 24-26: SDSU Farms Invitational – San Diego, Calif.
April 14-15: Silverado Tournament – Napa, Calif.
April 24-26: Mountain West Championships – Palm Springs, Calif.
May 8-10: NCAA Regionals
May 20-23: NCAA Championships – Tulsa, Okla.