W. Golf Defends Title at Golfweek Conference Challenge
Sept. 28, 2016
WOLCOTT, Colo. -- San Diego State successfully defended its team title at the Golfweek Conference Challenge on Wednesday after posting a 54-hole total of 2-over-par 866 at Red Sky Golf Club. Despite firing a collective 11-over 299 during the final round, the Aztecs emerged victorious by eight shots over two second-place squads Denver and Pepperdine (+10), while Old Dominion, Tennessee and Washington State all tied for fourth at 17-over for the week.
SDSU entered the day with a sizeable 13-stroke advantage on the par-72, 6,261-yard Tom Fazio Course, but had to endure some anxious moments after Denver trimmed the lead to just one shot midway through the round. However, the Scarlet and Black persevered, recording nine birdies and an eagle after the turn to pull away for its first tournament crown of the season.
"There were so many highs and lows for our team today, but I am very proud of the way everyone pulled through," said Aztec head coach Leslie Spalding. "I thought we rebounded nicely after some adversity, especially Haleigh (Krause) and Sirene (Blair). They got the momentum rolling again for us again. The greens here are lightning quick with huge breaks, but we just absolutely love this course with the fall scenery really starting to show."
Four of SDSU's five starters finished among the top 15 individually, including senior Natalie Vivaldi (Oceanside, Calif.), who tied for fifth at 2-over 214 after carding a final-round 75. The Colorado transfer entered the day with a two-shot lead, but suffered five bogeys, including four on the back nine to drop out of contention. Despite the stumble, the Rancho Buena Vista High alumna still managed a pair of birdies, including a successful drain on the par-5, 15th during the Aztecs' afternoon resurgence to complete her highest placement as a collegian.
Sirene Blair (South Jordan, Utah) and Mila Chaves (Asunción, Paraguay) also had their eyes on a medal as both players began the final round just three strokes off the pace in a tie for fourth. However, the two SDSU teammates slipped into a tie for 10th at 1-over 217 after each recorded a 75 of their own.
Blair was even through 11 holes, but experienced a rocky stretch, alternating a double-bogey with a bogey on her ensuing four greens to fall to 6-over for the day. However, the Aztec senior rose to the occasion with aplomb, notching an eagle-4 on No. 15, followed by consecutive birdies to help salvage her round.
Chaves, meanwhile, offset three bogeys with a pair of birdies while adding a team-high 12 pars. However, a double-bogey on the par-5 1th, her penultimate hole of the day, prevented a higher finish. Still, the SDSU junior logged the fifth top-10 career performance in her first start of the year.
Similarly, fellow classmate Haleigh Krause (Eugene, Ore.) was unable to avoid a double-bogey after experiencing the mishap on the par-4 No. 12. Yet the native Oregonian made a huge recovery of her own, sinking three clutch birdies on her next six greens before closing with two straight pars for a final-round 74. With her score, Krause finished in a tie for 14th at 3-over 219.
Junior Georgia Lacey (Del Mar, Calif.) was the fourth Aztec to log a 75 on Wednesday, highlighted by a trio of birdies, including an impressive conversion on the par-5, 505-yard 18th, which ranked as the second-toughest hole of the final round. With her effort, the Torrey Pines High product tied for 26th at 6-over 222.
Coastal Carolina's Malene Kroboll Hansen (-9) captured medalist honors after recording a tournament-low 66 over her final 18 holes, while Alivia Brown of Washington State (-6) landed in the runner-up spot.
San Diego State will have nearly two weeks off from competition before returning to the course for the prestigious Stanford Intercollegiate hosted by Condoleezza Rice, Oct. 14-16 in Stanford, Calif.
Golfweek Conference Challenge
Team Scores (Top 6 of 16 teams)
Individual Leaders (Top 7 of 90 players + SDSU)