Lobos Begin Defense of MWC Title Thursday
April 14, 2010
The 21st-ranked University of New Mexico looks to continue its dominance in Mountain West Conference women's golf when the 11th league championships are held this week on California's Monterey Peninsula. The 54-hole tournament will be played Thursday through Saturday at the Black Horse Golf Course (par 72, 6,009 yards) in Seaside, Calif.
UNM has won the past two team titles and six of the 10 contested since the league started in 2000. This week's winner earns the MWC's automatic berth into next month's NCAA regional competition.
Lobo senior Jodi Ewart is a two-time individual winner (2007 and `08) at the MWC Championships. She is also the three-time MWC Player of the Year.
THE COMPETITORS - It's a seven-team field with BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State, No. 22 TCU and Wyoming battling for the trophy.
LAST YEAR'S MWC CHAMPIONSHIPS - New Mexico won its second straight MWC championship, defeating TCU by 14 shots on the Black Horse Course. The Lobos shot a final round 305 for a 54-hole total of 903, and were never seriously threatened.
Junior Jodi Ewart was unable to claim her third consecutive individual title. She shot a 6-over 78 in the final round, her highest score in more than a year. Ewart ended in a tie for fourth at 225 (74-73-78).
Wyoming's Jonelle Martinez held on for medalist honors, defeating UNM junior Britney Choy by two strokes. Martinez finished at 5-over 221. Choy was consistent all weekend. She closed the tournament with a 74 and a total of 223 (74-75-74).
Lobo freshman Rebecca Hellbom was in contention for the lead after a birdie at 7, but played the final 11 holes in seven-over for a final round 79. She finished in sixth place at 227 (81-76-75).
After an opening round 81, senior Mikaela Backstedt got better each day. She shot a 76 Friday then ended with a 75 in the final round, tying for 13th at 232 (81-76-75). Senior Morgan Grantham shot a 78 for the third straight round. She tied for 19th at 234.
LAST WEEK AT THE PING WAS SPECIAL - Jodi Ewart and Rebecca Hellbom each shot 5-under 67 to propel 24th-ranked New Mexico to one of the best rounds in school history in the final round of the PING/ASU Invitational.
The Lobos shot a 10-under 278, the second-lowest total and the second-best score in relation to par ever by a New Mexico team. UNM's 278 was the lowest round by any team in a tournament that featured 12 of the nation's top-29 schools.
After starting the final round in eighth place, UNM roared to a fourth place finish with a 54-hole total of 1-under 863 (291-294-278) on the par-72, 6,230-yard Karsten Golf Course. The 863 total ranks No. 4 by a Lobo golf team for 54 holes.
Ewart and Hellbom tied for the 4th-best round at UNM by finishing at 5-under. The 67 was a career-best for both golfers and one stroke shy of the Lobo mark set by Kailin Downs at the 2004 Mountain West Conference Championships.
The only schools to beat New Mexico were top-ranked UCLA, No. 2 Arizona State and No. 6 Southern Cal. UCLA shot 9-under 279 in the final round to rally past ASU by one shot. The Bruins finished at 856.
"One of our goals was to start well, and we did," said head coach Jill Trujillo. "Britney (Choy) got us started with three straight birdies, and then Jodi (Ewart) made four in a row. Rebecca (Hellbom) was calm and cool all day and Beth (Buchner) finished strong. It's like we had an inoculation from bogeys."
New Mexico finished ahead of seven teams ranked higher in the March 31 Golfstat.com poll: No. 5 Alabama, No. 7 Arizona, No. 8 Purdue, No. 9 Pepperdine, No. 13 Stanford, No. 14 California and No. 21 Denver.
Hellbom, who came into the weekend with a season scoring average of 75.15, ended in a tie for third with a 7-under 209 (71-71-67). The 209 is her best 54-hole total at UNM and just one shot off the school mark set by Ewart at the 2009 Branch Law Firm Dick McGuire in Albuquerque.
Hellbom, who posted five birdies on a bogey-free card, finished two shots behind winner Stephanie Kono from UCLA. Kono birdied the last two holes for a 66 and a 9-under 207.
Ewart started on fire with four straight birdies between holes 3 and 6. She made a bogey at 8 before adding birdies at 10 and 13. Ewart tied for sixth at 211 (72-72-67).
Senior Britney Choy and freshman teammate Bethany Buchner tied for 42nd at 7-over 223. Choy birdied No. 18 for a 71 while Buchner birdied two of the final six holes for a career-best 73. It was also the best 54-hole tournament for Buchner in her first season as a Lobo.
HELLBOM NAMED MWC GOLFER OF THE MONTH FOR APRIL - For her efforts last week at the PING/ASU Invitational, sophomore Rebecca Hellbom was named MWC Golfer of the Month for April. It's the first monthly award for Hellbom.
EWART RANKED 6TH NATIONALLY - According to the April 14 Golfstat Cup standings, Lobo senior Jodi Ewart is ranked as the No. 6 women's golfer in the nation. She is, indeed, having a spectacular season:
current scoring average of 71.57, more than 1 stroke lower than her own school record of 72.68 set last season
has not won a tournament this season, but has has six top-6 finishes and placed second three times
7 of her 23 rounds have been in the 60s (1 67, 3 68s and 3 69s) after having 5 in the 60s her first three seasons (94 rounds)
currently 1st in the nation in Greens in Regulation (81.7%) and 3rd in par-4 scoring (4.03)