New Mexico Lobos at 2014 Mountain West Women’s Golf Championship
Where: Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club - Rancho Mirage, Calif.
When: 8 a.m. (MT) -- Thursday, Friday, Saturday
First-Round Pairings: Group 1 - Colorado State, San José State, San Diego State. Group 2 - Nevada, Boise State, UNLV. Group 3 - Wyoming, Fresno State, New Mexico.
The Lobos: Sammi Stevens, Manon De Roey, Manon Molle, Katerina Jaeger, Eva Saulnier.
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The battle lines for the 2014 Mountain West Women’s Golf Championship have been drawn and expanded. They take in more territory, more teams and more individuals.
It should be a wild, three-day chase to glory.
Sure, you probably favor San Diego State and UNLV because they carry the top rankings going into this 54-hole run held at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., but the Aztecs and the Rebels have challengers.
And remember, SDSU finished dead last in the Silverado behind four other Mountain West teams.
New Mexico could win it behind seniors Sammi Stevens, Manon De Roey and super frosh Manon Molle. San Jose State has a fistful of talented golfers headlined by Regan De Guzman. Fresno State has made a late charge behind the sticks of Madchen Ly.
“I think we are ready to go,” said UNM’s De Roey, the MW’s defending champion. “We just have to work hard as a team and everybody has to put their best game on.”
Yeah, that’s the key. One team will outplay the other teams and one player will outplay the field probably by staying out of trouble and rolling in some big putts.
The individual battle promises to be a nail-biter which should make the team battles a tense affair, too.
“We don’t try to trick the team and tell them it’s not important, because they already know it’s important,” Lobo Coach Jill Trujillo said of the chase for the 2014 MW crown.
“But I think it’s good they put a little pressure on themselves because we have high expectations.”
New Mexico’s expectations come from a tradition of MW success. The Lobos have seven championships with the last one coming in 2010. UNLV is the defending team champion. No other Mountain West program has won the conference title.
De Roey grabbed individual honors last year in Rancho Mirage with a card of 75-75-73=223. The winning score probably will be lower this season, but who knows? In the 14-year history of the event, there have been 12 cards below De Roey’s 7-over-par total.
“Last year I had a good tournament there,” De Roey said of the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at the Mission Hills Country Club. “It’s an honor to play there and it’s in perfect shape when we play there.”
The lowest individual 54-hole in MW history is 7-under, but the 6,324-yard Dinah Shore track is not easy. UNLV was 40-over as a team in 2013. The Lobos were 85-over in a sixth-place finish. Wyoming was 105-over. This is the site of the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship. Lexi Thompson won the 2014 event at 14-under.
“I think the top five teams have an individual who can win it,” said Trujillo. “But golf is one of those funny sports and it’s who has their game for those three rounds.”
The individual who wins this tournament also will be challenged and there are a lot of golfers this season who have shown the skills with the sticks to get the job done. The 2012-13 All-MW First Team returns intact: De Roey, Stevens, SDSU’s Emma Henrikson, SDSU’s Paige Spiranac and UNLV’s Dana Finkelstein.
That’s a great list to extract a favorite from. But there are more: De Guzman, Ly, SDSU’s Sirene Blair, UNLV’s Mayko Chwen Wang, Boise State’s Samantha Martin, UNLV’s Demi Mak and UNM’s Molle'.
“I’m just excited,” said UNM’s Stevens. “It’s such an honor to get to play the course that the Kraft Nabisco is played on. I feel like my game is in order. I’m ready to go.”
The Lobos would love to have an individual win the MW title, but the team crown takes precedence. SDSU has the highest ranking in Golfstat.com at 43 closely followed by UNLV in the No. 45 spot. San Jose State is No. 71 followed by New Mexico at 72. Fresno State is a distant 102.
“We’re more than capable,” said Stevens of UNM’s chances of returning to the throne. “It’s very possible, but it has to all come together. We have to all play solid golf. We have to have all four scores be good. I think we are really close
“This might be the time that it happens. It has to click.”
Said Trujillo: “It’s anybody’s game. We have to be consistent. That’s extremely important for us.”
The Lobos’ team at the MW Championships is Stevens, De Roey, Molle, Eva Saulnier and Katerina Jaeger. That’s a squad of two seniors and three freshmen.
“Manon Molle' has really shown that she is a player to be reckoned with,” said Trujillo. “She has had a few hiccups along the way but I think she is playing her best golf right now. Eva has gotten her feet wet a little bit and she knows what we expect from her. And Katerina has it in her to go really low.”
GolfStat.com's Mountain West's Top 10 Rankings
|Name||Yr.||School||Avg. Score||vs. Par|
|Manon De Roey||Sr.||UNM||73.87||1.74|
|Regan De Guzman||So.||SJS||73.71||1.93|
|Mayko Chwen Wang||So.||UNLV||74.73||2.68|