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MW Championship Starts Friday For SDSU Women's Golf

Freshman Amy Alston makes her Mountain West championship debut starting Friday.
Freshman Amy Alston makes her Mountain West championship debut starting Friday.

April 19, 2012

SDSU MW Tournament Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The San Diego State women's golf team resumes action after a 19-day break for the 2012 Mountain West championships, April 20-22. The 54-hole tournament takes place at the par-72, 6,208-yard Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz., just outside Phoenix.

The event will be played at the Wigwam for the second consecutive year after spending the 2009 and 2010 campaigns at the Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, Calif. In the MW's 13 years, the championship has been held in five different states, including Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.

The Aztecs have finished in fifth place two consecutive years and are facing a field of six other schools with three of them ranked among the top 50 in the nation.

Teams play 18 holes each of the three days, following a practice round Thursday. The Aztecs, who are the No. 3 seed, will be paired with No. 1 TCU and No. 6 Wyoming for the first round, starting at 8:40 a.m. PT from the first tee on Friday.

Aztec Line-Up For This Week
First-year Aztec head coach Leslie Spalding will take a senior, three juniors and a freshman to this week's Mountain West Conference championships. Four of the five competed for SDSU at last season's conference tournament, while freshman Amy Alston (Mission Viejo, Calif.) will be making her MW debut.

Senior Malin Enarsson (Gothenburg, Sweden) is of course the most experienced player, having competed the three previous years with her best finish coming in both 2009 and 2010 when she took 10th.

Joining Enarsson are juniors Gina Clark (Murrieta, Calif.), Alessia Knight (Bologna, Italy) and Christine Wong (Richmond, B.C.), who were SDSU's top three performers at last year's event.

The Competition
Three of SDSU's opponents this week are ranked in the top 50 in the golfstat.com rankings as of April 18.

TCU, the reigning conference champ, holds the highest ranking in the MW with a No. 35 spot by Golfstat, while seven-time winner New Mexico is 48th. League newcomer Boise State (No. 160), Colorado State (No. 89), UNLV (No. 47) and Wyoming (No. 122) round out the field.

San Diego State, meanwhile, sits at No. 46 in the Golfstat rankings, a slight three-spot drop from last year at this time. In 2011-12, the Aztecs are perfect in head-to-head results vs. Wyoming (2-0) and Colorado State (3-0) and are deadlocked at 3-3 with New Mexico. TCU (0-2) and UNLV (2-4) own winning season marks over SDSU, which has yet to play at the same tournament as Boise State (0-0) in 2011-12.

Individually, five of the top-10 finishers from last year's MWC tournament return, including runner-up Betsy Kelly of Colorado State.

SDSU In The MWC Tournament
In the 12-year history of the Mountain West Conference, SDSU has finished fifth in this event on six occasions, second and seventh twice and fourth and sixth once apiece.

Last season, the Aztecs were fifth for the second year in a row, after ending up in seventh in both 2008 and 2009. The program was sixth in 2007, fifth in 2003, 2005 and 2006, fourth in 2004 and was runner-up in both 2001 and 2002. The Aztecs were disqualified in the inaugural tournament in 2000, after two players turned in incorrect scorecards in the third and final round.

Individually, the highest SDSU finish came in 2002, when Heather Rollo tied for second place with a 218, just two strokes out of first. Jenna Wilson owns the school record for the best score in a 54-hole conference tournament with a 2-over-215 in 2004.

Mountain West History Lesson
• New Mexico dominated the first four years of the MWC championship, claiming the team title by at least 11 shots in each of the first three years before coming back to defeat UNLV in 2003 by one stroke. The Lady Rebels got their revenge, knocking off the Lobos by two strokes in both 2004 and 2005 to claim the conference championship. UNLV captured its third-straight title in 2006, while TCU won by one stroke over BYU in 2007. Playing on their home course, the Lobos topped the Cougars by 19 strokes in the 2008 edition to start a three-year reign, which included two-straight decisions over runner-up TCU from 2009-10. The Horned Frogs finally logged their second MW title in 2011.

• Four different schools have had a player win the individual title, including UNLV (2004, 2005, 2006, 2011), New Mexico (2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010), Colorado State (2002) and Wyoming (2000, 2009).

• The first MWC championship took place at the Sunbrook Golf Club in St. George, Utah. The tournament then moved to Sunriver (Ore.) the next five seasons, however, the first round of the 2003 event was played at the Awbrey Glen Golf Course in Bend, Ore., due to inclement weather. The event has also been played at the Entrada at Snow Canyon in St. George (2006-07), the UNM championship course in Albuquerque, N.M. (2008) and the Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, Calif. (2009-10).

• The year's course yardage of 6,208 is 200 yards shorter than last year at the Wigwam, as the squads will compete on the Gold Course after playing the Red/Heritage Course in 2011.

• New Mexico and UNLV own at least a share of all 12 Mountain West championship records.

MWC Championship Results
Live stats will be provided for this year's MW championship on the SDSU (goaztecs.com) and MW websites (www.themwc.com) or via Golfstat (golfstat.com).

Aztec 11-12 Highlights
The San Diego State women's golf team, which is looking to earn its third consecutive NCAA regional appearance, has finished in the top five in five events to start the Leslie Spalding era.

The Aztecs produced solid results in the fall portion of the schedule, taking fifth at the opening 18-team Dick McGuire Invitational and following it up with a victory at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate in early October. SDSU won that event by coming back from a 10-stroke deficit with just 18 holes to play and ultimately finished first by 16 strokes at 24-over 888. Junior Christine Wong claimed medalist honors with her even-par 216 and the team had three others place in the top 10.

After a challenging field at Stanford, the Aztecs closed 2011 with a runner-up performance at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, vaulting two spots in the final round.

The spring campaign thus far has been highlighted by the team's third-place finish at the UNLV Spring Invitational, a fifth-place performance at the Bruin Wave Invite and Wong's second individual title of the year at the latter event.

As a testament to their strength of schedule, the Aztecs enter the conference tournament with the second-highest national ranking among league schools at 46th. Individually, Wong boasts the best stroke average in the Mountain West at 73.96, and finished in the top 25 in each of her opening seven tournaments. Senior Malin Enarsson has placed in the top 20 four times and has the second-best stroke average at 75.31 and junior Gina Clark is second on the squad with her two, top-10 performances.

Last Time Out: Enarsson Leads SDSU In Tempe
The San Diego State women's golf team finished out its final regular-season tournament by taking 16th at the PING/ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., March 30-April 1. The Aztecs ended up with a 54-hole total of 63-over 915 at the par-71, 6,121-yard Karsten Golf Course.

Senior Malin Enarsson moved up the individual leaderboard each of the last two days to tie for 32nd place at 10-over 223, while junior Christine Wong's final-round 76 allowed her to jump 11 spots into 46th with a 13-over 226.

The Aztecs' remaining three golfers each had their highest score over the final 18 holes with Alessia Knight finishing 75th, Gina Clark taking 81st and Amy Alston coming in 85th.

Up Next
The winner of this week's Mountain West Conference championship earns an automatic bid to the NCAA regional tournament. If SDSU claims the MW title, it will head to the NCAA regionals, May 10-12, in either Erie, Colo., Columbus, Ohio or State College, Pa. The trip to the NCAAs would be the team's third consecutive and third overall since 2004.

Each of the three regional tournaments will include 24 teams and six individuals, not on those teams. The participants will be selected by the NCAA women's golf committee and are announced on April 30.

The top eight teams and two individuals (not on those teams) from each region will advance to the NCAA championships, May 22-25, in Franklin, Tenn.

Spalding In First Season As SDSU's Head Coach
Leslie Spalding, who was hired last August, is in her first season as head coach of the Aztecs.

The Billings, Mont., native played on the LPGA Tour from 1996 to 2005, competing in 215 events with seven top-10 finishes and more than $600,000 in prize money. After completing her playing career, she served as the head women's golf coach at Montana State from 2007-11.

As a collegian, Spalding attended the University of Alabama on a golf scholarship from 1987 to 1991 and earned her bachelor's degree in telecommunication/film with a minor in marketing in 1992.