W. Golf Readies for Spring Opener at Northrop Grumman Challenge
Feb. 8, 2018
SAN DIEGO -- After a nearly four-month break from competition, the San Diego State women's golf team opens its spring slate early next week when it participates in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Feb. 11-13, in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
The 54-hole tournament commences on Sunday at the par-71, 6,017-yard Palos Verdes Golf Club¬ with tee times as early as 9 a.m. PT. Monday's second round is also primed for the same schedule, while the final 18 holes are set to begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday. A live scoring link courtesy of Golfstat will be available at GoAztecs.com.
The Aztecs will face arguably their toughest field of the season, which features 13 schools among the top 30 in the latest Golfstat rankings, including UCLA (1), Duke (2), Alabama (3), Stanford (5), Arizona State (6), Oklahoma State (8), Texas (10), USC (12), Northwestern (13), Florida (18), Wake Forest (23), Washington (25) and Tennessee (28). In addition, SDSU will battle Mountain West rival UNLV, while Arizona, Baylor and tournament host Ohio State round out the list of competing squads.
For the short drive up the freeway, seventh-year head coach Leslie Spalding will accompany the starting lineup of senior Mila Chaves (Asunción, Paraguay), freshman Gioia Carpinelli (Boppelsen, Switzerland), senior Georgia Lacey (Del Mar, Calif.), sophomore Fernanda Escauriza (Asunción, Paraguay) and freshman Sara Kjellker (Hollviken, Sweden).
Kjellker leads the Aztecs with a 74.78 scoring average in nine rounds this year, highlighted by a sixth-place tie with a 2-over 218 at the highly competitive Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational, while Carpinelli follows closely with an average of 74.83 strokes in 12 outings.
Kjellker, Carpinelli and Lacey (75.17) all landed in a tie for 25th at the season-opening Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational in New Mexico, helping the Scarlet and Black to a fifth-place standing out of 18 teams. Lacey was also the team's top finisher at the Golfweek Conference Challenge last September in Colorado, where she tied for 17th at 3-over 219.
Escauriza (75.22), the reigning Mountain West individual champion, completed the fall slate on a positive note after tying for sixth at 2-over 218 as an individual competitor at the UC Irvine Invitational last October.
Chaves, meanwhile is coming off a successful winter break after winning the South American Women's Amateur Championship last month at Martindale Country Club in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she carded a collective 6-under 282 to edge Colombia's Silvia Garces (-5) by one stroke, chipping in for a birdie-3 on the final hole of the tournament to erase a two-shot deficit.
SDSU tied for eighth at the Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge a year ago in its first-ever appearance at the event, tying for eighth with Arizona at 27-over 879. Lacey is the Aztecs top returning player from that tournament when she tied for 39th with a 9-over 222, followed by Escauriza (T-55th, +12) and Chaves (T-84th, +27).
USC (+4) looks to defend its team title from last season after the Women of Troy edged Arizona State (+5) and Duke (+7). Tri-medalists Mackenzie Raim of UNLV, Leona Maguire of Duke and Taylor Tomlinson of Florida are all back in the hunt once again after each shot a 4-under 209 at Palos Verdes GC last year. Also back in the mix are Arizona's Haley Moore (T-5th), Alabama's Lauren Stephenson (T-5th) and Duke's Ana Belac (T-7th).
Following the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, San Diego State will travel to California's central coast to compete in the annual Bruin Wave Invitational co-hosted by UCLA and Pepperdine, Feb. 26-27, at San Luis Obispo Country Club.