Photo by R.Stevens
Photo by R.Stevens
Lobo Senior Leaders Eye Branch/McGuire Title
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/19/2013

New Mexico Lobos Women's Golf – Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational

When/Where:  Friday-Saturday (Sept. 20-21) – 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.

The Lobos:  Sammi Stevens, Manon De Roey, Manon Molle, Katerina Jaeger, Sofia Hoglund. Kalyn Thayer will play as an individual.

Tournament Records:  Team 18 holes: 281; Individual 18: 67; Team total: 859; Individual total: 207.

Albuquerque, N.M. – Lobo Coach Jill Trujillo has a message for her Lobos:  “Be tournament ready.”

That message can be passed on another way, too.  Glance at the previous winners of the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational and you might notice that the Lobos have won their fall  tournament only seven times going back to its original roots that were laid down in 1956.

The message is simple enough:  It’s not that easy to win a golf tournament and just because you know the University of New Mexico Championship Course, that doesn’t automatically translate into birdies and sub-70 scores.

You have to make some shots.

“When it is your tournament on your course, sometimes you take things for granted,” said Trujillo.  “You have to be tournament ready and not let the course sneak up and get you. I reminded the team that when classes are done on Thursday, they have to switch their brains to tournament mode.

“Sometimes nerves get the best of you and sometimes you just don’t play well.  But we play this course day in and day out and we should be good on this course.”

The Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational has an 8 a.m., shotgun start on Friday and Saturday.  Some of the best collegiate women golfers in the nation will play 36 holes on Friday and finish with 18 on Saturday.

Iowa State is the defending champion, Colorado is coming off an impressive second-place run at Colorado State’s fall invite and Pepperdine comes to town with the No. 15 preseason nod from Golfweek.  The Lobos played well in Fort Collins, Colo., finishing fifth a place behind UNLV.

“We know we are more than capable of winning,” said Lobo senior Sammi Stevens.  “I feel our new girls have a feel for the course and we know we are capable of playing well here.  But you have to come together at the same time and score as a team.”

Said senior Manon De Roey:  “There are a lot of good teams.  It’s a hard course and you have to play smart and the greens are really fast.   We might know the course, but it’s still a difficult course.”

No, the Championship Course will not roll over.  It is fair off the tee boxes, but if your tee shot drifts – hooks or fades  too much – there is trouble.

“The grass has been growing in this rain and in the cooler temperatures.  The rough is up,” said Trujillo.  “We try to make the course fair, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park either.”

The rough is always a factor in a tournament.  The balls come off the short stuff better.  However, the big key to this 6,167-yard track is the huge, undulating greens.  You can be on the dance floor and still be a chip shot away from the flag.  This is where the Lobos gain their biggest edge.  They know the rolls and the breaks – but you still have to make the six-footers, too. .

“You don’t want to be on the front tier on 18, if the hole is all the way at the back,” said Trujillo.

The Lobos and the other 15 teams chasing the 2013 Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire title will be on the course for at least eight hours on Friday.  That’s a long walk. “The elevation makes it tough on some teams,” said Trujillo.

The Lobos finished in 10th place last year shooting 309-296-304—909. Iowa State won the team title at 886 with three teams a shot back: Ohio State, UC Davis and UNLV. Colorado’s Jennifer Coleman shot a final-round 68 to win individual honors by eight shots.

UNM’s De Roey tied for ninth place in 2012 and teammate Stevens tied for 13th place.  Pepperdine won this tournament in 2005 and 2009 and bring in First Team All-American Grace Na.   UNM’s Sofia Hoglund won in 2011. UNLV’s Dana Finkelstein is coming off an individual win up at CSU.

 Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net.