Women's Golf Wins MW-Record Ninth Championship
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — The University of New Mexico women’s golf team executed an exciting, come-from-behind victory on Wednesday in the third and final round of the 2021 Mountain West Championships to claim its ninth title in program history, a conference record.
Sophomore Lauren Lehigh tied for first and ultimately fell in a three-hole playoff for the Individual Championship. She led a trio of Lobo to finish in the top six.
The victory marks the fifth under the tutelage of head coach Jill Trujillo, UNM’s first since 2014.
The Lobos posted a 15-stroke comeback to overcome an 11-stroke deficit following round two. UNM trailed San Diego State 593 (+17) to 582 (+6) before turning in their best round of the tournament in round three with a score of 290 (+2) marking a 10-stroke improvement from round one. The Lobos topped the Aztecs by four strokes.
New Mexico was in second place by three strokes heading into the last eight holes, but made up ground and jumped ahead by one before taking a commanding, five-stroke lead heading into the final three holes.
The Lobos stayed poised as sophomore Napat “Jenny” Lertsadwattana registered a pair of birdies through the last five holes and senior Serena Chon birdied hole 17 to make her even for the round. Lehigh was -1 heading into hole 17 but after carding a four on the par-3, hole 17, finished even on the day.
Lehigh battled for the win in a three-hole playoff with San Diego State’s Sara Kjellker but fell by one stroke on the third playoff hole, which was hole #17.
Lehigh shot a 73 in round one before carding par (72) in both rounds one and round two. She finished tied for third overall in par-4 scoring (4.03, +1) and tied for fourth in par-5 scoring (4.75, -3) while leading the field in birdies with nine.
Lehigh, who finished with a score of 217 (+1), was followed by Lertsadwattana who tied for fourth with a score of 220 (+4) after shooting a 76 in round one. She finished rounds two and three with a 72 in each and tied Lehigh for most birdies with nine. She also tied for second in par-5 scoring (4.67, -4).
Freshman Myah McDonald tied Lertsadwattana shooting a 73 in round one, a 72 in round two and a 75 in round three. She led the field in par-4 scoring (4.00, E) and collected 39 pars.
Seniors Serena Chon and Caroline Jansson rounded out the Lobo five and each stepped up to finish out round three strong. Chon, who shot a 79 and 77 in rounds one and two, respectively, turned in a par-72 performance in round three. Similarly, Jansson posted scores of 78 in both of the first two rounds before chopping off four strokes for a +2, 74 in round three.
After wrapping up regulation play tied for the individual title at 217 (+1), Lehigh and Kjellker began a battle for the trophy with a playoff on hole #18.
It looked as if Kjellker would take the win on the hole as Lehigh’s shot landed way off the green, on the edge of the water. Lehigh, standing in the water, made an outstanding chip onto the green and finished with a short put for the pair to remain tied.
On the second playoff hole, hole #10, Lehigh had the chance to win it with a long put. She sunk her fourth shot for par, forcing Kjellker to make birdie for the win. Kjellker also made par and the two went on to playoff hole three.
The third playoff hole was on hole #17, the hole that Lehigh finished one over in the third round. Her first shot went way left of the green, second she chipped over the bunker to the side of the green, putting Kjellker in a position to win it. Lehigh, the away ball, decided to put from the rough, just missing to the left. She putted it in on the fourth for bogey and Kjellker sunk the put for par for the win.
The Lobos will next take on the NCAA Regionals at a site to be determined. Stay tuned to GoLobos.com and follow @UNMLoboWGOLF on Twitter for the latest schedule updates.