W. Golf collects four MW honors
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Leslie Spalding enters her seventh season as head coach at San Diego State in 2017-18, continuing her quest to establish the Aztecs as a national force in collegiate women's golf. A 10-year veteran of the LPGA Tour, Spalding arrived on Montezuma Mesa after serving as head coach at Montana State for four seasons from 2007-11.
Under Spalding's direction, SDSU has recorded 28 top-five placements, nine event titles and six team regional appearances, while her players have earned 19 all-Mountain West honors and collected 10 weekly/monthly awards from the league office.
Spalding guided the Aztecs to another banner season in 2015-16, with the Scarlet and Black posting top-five finishes in six of 10 events, highlighted by consecutive victories at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational. With those results, San Diego State rocketed to the No. 13 spot nationally in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings during the fall schedule. In addition, the Aztecs made a run at their second straight conference championship, landing in the runner-up position at the Mountain West tournament before making their sixth postseason appearance in the last seven years with a berth in the NCAA Stanford Regional.
Individually, Spalding oversaw the rise of Emma Henrikson, who was named MW Player of the Year and became the program's first All-American after receiving honorable mention from the Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA). Henrikson, who graduated last spring, set a team record for lowest single-season stroke average (71.96) and collected first-team all-MW honors for the fourth year in a row. Not to be outdone, Sirene Blair garnered second-team all-conference accolades and earned a spot on the WGCA All-American Scholar Team to go along with MW scholar-athlete distinction.
In 2014-15, Spalding led the Aztecs to arguably their finest season school history, highlighted by the program's first ever Mountain West championship. Despite a roster with three freshmen and a schedule replete with high-level competition, SDSU posted six top-five team finishes in nine events, winning team titles at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic, Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown and the aforementioned conference tournament. For her efforts, Spalding was named MW Coach of the Year. As a team, the Aztecs climbed as high as 12th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings before finishing the year at No. 26 on the heels of an 11th-place showing at the NCAA St. George Regional. In addition, Spalding tutored a trio of all-conference performers in Henrikson, Blair and Mila Chaves, who gave the Scarlet and Black three all-MW picks for the third year in a row.
Spalding also introduced a match-play format for the SDSU Farms Invitational (now SDSU March Mayhem) as the Aztecs posted a solid third-place finish in a stacked field that included eight top-40 schools.
Spalding's squad completed another successful season in 2013-14, logging top-five finishes in six of eight tournaments, including a team title at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown and a second-place tie at the MW Championship. In addition, the Aztecs secured another postseason bid with a trip to the NCAA West Regionals in Cle Elum, Wash. Individually, Henrikson garnered first-team all-MW accolades, joining second-team honorees Blair and Paige Spiranac. Blair also became the fourth women's golfer in school history to earn MW Freshman of the Year distinction.
Under Spalding's guidance during the 2012-13 campaign, Henrikson, Spiranac and Christine Wong received individual bids to the NCAA Central Regional Championships. The aforementioned Aztec trio also earned all-MW recognition, with Henrikson and Spiranac collecting first-team honors, while Wong was a second-team choice. In addition, Henrikson was named MW Freshman of Year.
As a team, Spalding directed the Aztecs to a pair of top-five finishes against a highly competitive schedule that season, with the Scarlet and Black placing third at the inaugural Cal Classic, followed by a fourth-place showing at the Gold Rush tournament.
In her first year at the helm of the Aztecs in 2011-12, Spalding led SDSU to its third consecutive NCAA regional bid and a third-place finish at the Mountain West Championships, its highest performance at the event in a decade. Overall, the team posted top-five performances in six tournaments and claimed a title at the Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate in early October by overcoming a 10-stroke deficit with just 18 holes to play.
Individually, Spalding helped junior Christine Wong become the first Aztec to be named the Mountain West Women's Golfer of the Year. Wong led the league in stroke average (73.94), claimed medalist honors twice and finished second at the 2012 conference championships. She was joined on the all-MW squad by senior Malin Enarsson, as the pair were the first Aztecs to do so on multiple occasions during their careers in the 13-year history of the league.
Spalding played on the LPGA Tour from 1996 to 2005, competing in 215 events and earning more than $600,000 in prize money. She recorded seven top-10 finishes, including a career-best third-place showing at the 2001 ShopRite LPGA Classic, when she carded a career-low 64 in the final round. The Billings, Mont., native also tallied back-to-back top-10 performances in 2002 at the LPGA Corning Classic and the Kellogg-Keebler Classic, and came in sixth at the 2000 LPGA Corning Classic and the 1998 Weetabix Women's British Open.
Spalding began her professional playing career in 1992, competing on both the Futures and Gold Coast Tours before earning exempt status for the LPGA Tour for the first time in 1996.
Following her stint on the LPGA Tour, Spalding was named the head women's golf coach at Montana State in the fall of 2007. On the course, she helped Kelly Gillum become the second women's golfer to capture the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year award in 2008-09. Off the course, Spalding helped raise over $100,000 to support the Bobcat golf program and created the team's 19th Hole Booster Club.
As a collegian, Spalding attended the University of Alabama on a golf scholarship from 1987 to 1991. She won a pair of tournaments for the Crimson Tide, the 1990 Neva McCall/Alabama Intercollegiate and the 1991 Women's Southern Intercollegiate, before earning her bachelor's degree in telecommunication/film with a minor in marketing in 1992.
Spalding prepped at Billings Senior High School, where she won the 1986-87 girls' state title. She also captured consecutive Montana state women's amateur championships in both 1991 and 1992.
Spalding has been a PGA Member since 1995, and worked as a teaching professional at Yegen Golf Club in Billings, Mont., from 2006-07. She has extensive experience in fund raising and marketing, having played regularly in charity Pro-Am events as a LPGA Tour player and independent contractor, and secured a sponsorship with Heinz Foods Service as a tour player.
The Leslie Spalding File
Collegiate Coaching Experience:
2007-11 - Montana State University - Women's Head Coach
Professional Playing Experience:
�� 1986-87 Montana State Class AA High School Champion �� 1990 Neva McCall/Alabama Intercollegiate Champion �� 1991 Women's Southern Intercollegiate (WSIC) Champion �� 1991, 1992 Montana State Women's Amateur Champion �� Competed in 215 LPGA Tour events from 1996-2005 �� Seven top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour �� Tied for sixth place at the 1998 Weetabix Women's British Open �� Ninth place at the 1999 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship �� Sixth place at the 2000 LPGA Corning Classic �� Tied for third place at the 2001 ShopRite LPGA Classic �� Back-to-back top-10 finishes at the 2002 LPGA Corning Classic (tied-9th)