New Mexico Lobos Women's Golf – Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational
When/Where: Friday-Saturday – UNM Championship Course
The Field vs. New Mexico: Colorado, Fresno State, Iowa, Iowa State, Nevada, UNLV, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Texas Tech, Texas El Paso, UC Davis, Wyoming.
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In figuring out the teams and players to beat in the upcoming Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational, you can’t help but start with the University of New Mexico and their three seniors: Sammi Stevens, Manon De Roey and Sofia Hoglund.
These seniors have the home-turf advantage and probably could play the UNM Championship Course blindfolded. Still, they have to hit it well, make some putts.
Stevens is coming off a runner-up finish up at Colorado State’s Colonel Wollenberg Ptarmigan Ram Classic where she went looking for her first collegiate win.
“I’d love to get my first win and get a team win (at Branch/McGuire),” said Stevens. “I feel really good about this year. My game is really coming together.”
De Roey won two tournaments in 2012-13, including the Mountain West Championship. She is coming off a hot summer of European golf. Hoglund has won the Branch/McGuire tourney before.
An obvious challenge to New Mexico and the entire field is Pepperdine which opens its season at the Branch/McGuire. The Waves crash into Albuquerque carrying GolfWeek’s No. 15 ranking and have added a few talented freshmen to push their veterans.
The Waves are paced by First Team All-American senior Grace Na, who finished the 2012-13 season rated No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. The Waves have won 12 straight West Coast Conference titles. They know how to win – how to finish. But the Championship Course also has claimed a few victims and dished out more than a few bogeys.
Na won two tournaments in 2012-13 and, like UNM’s De Roey, won her conference crown. Na has solid support behind her including sophomore Marrisa Chow, an All-WCC pick as a freshman.
You also have to take a serious look at UNLV’s Dana Finkelstein and UNLV as possible individual and team champions. Finkelstein slipped past UNM’s Stevens by a single shot up at the Ptarmigan Ram Classic. It was Finkelstein’s first career win. Finkelstein rolled out a steady card of 71-70-71. Stevens had the low round twice up at Fort Collins – 69 and 68 – but sandwiched those rounds around a 76. She is playing well.
The Rebels also edged the Lobos by a spot in the team standings finishing fourth to the Lobos’ fifth-place finish out of 17 teams.
Up at CSU, the Lobos also were looking up at the Colorado Buffaloes which finished second behind California. The Buffs were led by sisters Jenny Coleman and Kristin Coleman, who finished fifth and eighth at the CSU invite.
Iowa traveled to a tournament at Nebraska and finished fourth behind junior Shelby Phillips’ fifth-place finish. Phillips shot a 67 in that event to set an Iowa record and a tourney record for 18 holes. Iowa State, paced by Prima Thammaraks, opens its season in Albuquerque.
Oregon finished fourth at the Mary Fossum Invitational (Michigan State) behind Cassy Isagawa and Cathleen Santoso, who tied for the 11th spot. Northwestern finished fifth behind Kaitlin Park’s sixth place finish.
San Diego State returns two All-Mountain West golfers in Emma Henrikson and Paige Spiranac, who went to the NCAA regionals as individuals. Henrikson was the MW Freshman of the Year in 2012 and was No. 6 in the MW in scoring average.
Texas Tech opens its season at the Branch/McGuire with Elin Arvidsson the Red Raiders top returning golfer. Nevada finished 10th at CSU and Fresno State, behind Madchen Ly, came in 13th. Those teams will be looking to play better in Albuquerque.
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.
Lobo Women's Golf - 2013 Fall Schedule
Sept. 9-10: Ptarmigan Ram Classic – Fort Collins (Colorado State) (5th-place finish/17 teams)
Sept. 20-21: Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire – UNM Championship Course (New Mexico)
Oct. 13-15: Betsy Rawls Longhorn Classic – Austin (Texas)
Oct. 27-29: Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown – Las Vegas (UNLV)