Lobo Classics: 2014 Women's Golf Wins MW Championship
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – University of New Mexico head women’s golf coach Jill Trujillo is no stranger to bringing championships to her alma mater. In her time leading the women’s golf program, the Lobos have claimed four Mountain West Tournament Championships as a team while the program has featured three individual champions that have won a total of five individual crowns.
Leading the Lobos since 2007, the first three team titles under Trujillo came in succession and with relative ease beginning in 2008.
That year the Lobos won the Mountain West Championship Tournament by 19 strokes over former conference foe BYU. A year later, the Lobos repeated as champions, this time by a margin of 14 strokes over another former conference rival in TCU. In 2010, the Lobos made it three-straight championships as they won by nine strokes over TCU.
The fourth and most-recent of the MW Championships that a Trujillo-led Lobo team have won came in 2014 and is the subject of this week’s Lobo Classics.
Looking to end their championship drought, the Lobos went into the 2014 Mountain West Championship Tournament with a lineup that featured polar opposites of playing experience with three freshmen and two seniors. Even with two seniors headlined at the top of the lineup, the Lobos, collectively as a team, were still playing without championship experience as none of the golfers were a part of the program the last time the Lobos hoisted the team trophy in 2010.
Despite the overall lack of team championship experience, the Lobos were not without championship experience entirely. The year prior, Manon DeRoey, one of the two returning seniors to the 2014 team, won the individual championship after beating UNLV’s Demi Mak in a one-hole playoff. In addition to DeRoey’s great performance in 2013, the Lobos other returning senior for the 2014 season, Sammi Stevens, also played well as she finished 12th overall.
The significance of both DeRoey and Stevens’ success the year prior assuredly played a huge factor in the overall confidence of the team heading into the 2014 MW Championship Tournament since it was going to be played on the very same course as in 2013, the Dinah Short Tournament Course at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Entering the 2014 tournament, the Lobos were ranked fourth among their MW competition according to the latest GolfStat national rankings. In those rankings, San Diego State was ranked No. 43 followed by UNLV at No. 45. San José State was just ahead of UNM at No. 71 while the Lobos were ranked No. 72. Individually, the Lobos also had three golfers appear in GolfStat’s MW Top-10 Rankings leading into the tournament with Stevens and DeRoey ranking second and third respectively and freshman Manon Mollé ranking 10th.
After the first round was completed, the Lobos were in third place as a team, but were only two strokes back of leader San Diego State and one stroke behind San José State. On the individual leaderboard, Mollé was tied for first place after shooting a one-under 71. Three strokes back of Mollé were DeRoey and fellow freshman Eva Saulnier. Stevens’ opening round score of 76 rounded out scoring for the Lobos as they totaled 295 strokes.
In round two, the Lobos matched their round one score as a team and shot a 295. Mollé was also consistent and shot another one-under 71 to hold steady in a tie for the individual lead. That consistency saw the Lobos ascend to the top of the team leaderboard as both SDSU and SJSU faltered in day two.
After leading the tournament through day one, SDSU added 15 strokes to their second-round score and dropped into a tie for fifth place. San José State’s drop was not a steep, but an additional six strokes to their second-round score landed them in fourth place through 36 holes of play.
Remaining consistent in their team score from round one to round two like the Lobos was Fresno State. Through the first 18 holes, the Bulldogs were one stroke back of the Lobos and ended the first round in a tie for fourth place with a score of 296. A second-round score of 296 placed the Bulldogs in second place and just two strokes back of the Lobos for the lead.
UNLV made the biggest jump from round one to round two and dropped 13 strokes vaulting them to third place and just three strokes behind the Lobos. Despite the aforementioned drop for San José State, the Spartans were still within striking distance and only four shots back of the lead.
With the top four teams on the leaderboard through 36 holes within four strokes of one another, the third and final round was setting up to have a lot of excitement, tension and nerves throughout, all the way to the 54th and final hole.
Of course, all of that was going to be the case under the most perfect playing conditions, but as it can happen when playing an outdoor sport such as golf, weather conditions are an unpredictable variable to deal with and overcome. That was indeed the case for the third round as gusty conditions were forecast throughout the day, especially around the time the Lobos would likely be wrapping up their round playing in the final group.
With windy conditions that saw gusts upwards of 30-35 miles per hour, the third round collectively saw higher team scores all around. The lowest team score carded in that third round was a 308 from San Diego State. The Aztecs had shot that score the day prior joining Nevada as the only team to not see their score go up from round two to round three. Despite the consistency of San Diego State in rounds two and three, their plummet from round one to round two was too much to overcome as they eventually tied for third.
Fresno State, who was two shots back of UNM and the lead entering the third round, played alongside the Lobos and UNLV in the final grouping. In the third round, the Bulldogs carded the third-highest score of the round at 317. That put them out of contention and ultimately led to a tie for third place with San Diego State and UNLV, who shot a 316 in the final round.
With their two playing partners not factoring in the team championship down the stretch, the Lobos were trying to hold off pressure put on by a solid final round by San José State. The Spartans were playing in the grouping ahead of the Lobos in the final round and had the second-lowest score of the day with a 309. That put SJSU in the clubhouse with a 54-hole total of 903.
Knowing what was potentially in front of them, the Lobos locked in on finishing strong.
Teeing off nine minutes after one another, Stevens was the third Lobo to take to the course in the final round followed by DeRoey and Mollé. Seasoned seniors, Stevens and DeRoey figured to be able to handle the pressure based on previous experience. The wildcard, however, was going to be the freshman Mollé.
Despite the difficult conditions, both Stevens and DeRoey played relatively well in the final round carding rounds of three-over (75) and four-over (76). That helped both players assure top-10 individual finishes.
Playing as the last Lobo on the course, a potential fourth MW Championship under Trujillo and eighth overall as a program rested in the play of Mollé.
Vying for an individual championship as well entering the final round Mollé got off to a difficult start going three-over through the front nine. Unfortunately, things did not get better for Mollé at the turn as she made double bogey on No. 10 and bogey on No. 11, bringing her third round to six-over.
After making par on No. 12 and No. 13, Mollé lost another stroke with a bogey on No. 14. Now with four holes left to play it was clear that the Lobos needed Mollé to settle in and not give any strokes back.
Undeterred by the gravity of the situation and mounting pressure, Mollé made par on the next three holes to keep her at seven-over for the day and set the stage for the final hole, No. 18.
In the previous two rounds, Mollé had made par on the par-5, 521-yard hole and par or better was all that she would need to secure the victory for the Lobos.
After three shots, Mollé was on the green and in position to two-putt for par. Mollé’s initial putt left her a few feet away from the cup where she tapped in for the championship-sealing par. Moments after sinking the putt, Mollé and the rest of her teammates and coaches took a leap into the famed Poppie’s Pond, a fitting end to a memorable championship.
About Lobo Classics
The goal of the “Lobo Classics” series is to highlight some of the greatest moments in the history of UNM Athletics. These types of moments can consist of specific games, individual performances, record-breaking achievements or even entire championship seasons. It is our intention that during this period of uncertainty, we can bring some joy and happiness to our unwaveringly loyal fans that make up Lobo Nation!
As part of this endeavor, Lobo Athletics wants to make this an interactive project and are opening up for suggestions from Lobo fans everywhere. Fans can make suggestions that they would like to see highlighted in “Lobo Classics” by tweeting to @UNMLobos and using the hashtag #LoboClassics. Fans can also submit suggestions through email: firstname.lastname@example.org.