April 19, 2007
ST. GEORGE, Utah -
The University of Wyoming Cowgirl golf team opened the 2007 Mountain West Conference Women's Golf Championship by shooting 321 (+37) on Thursday in St. George, Utah, a mirror image of the round UW opened with last season when they ultimately finished seventh.
The difference this championship is that the scores from the rest of the MWC field are significantly higher due to a more difficult course setup and the Cowgirls are now right in the mix. In fact, the Cowgirls are only four strokes back of the defending MWC champion UNLV Rebels, seven strokes out of third place and are in sixth place out of seven teams.
BYU shot 294 (+10) on the first day and holds a six-stroke advantage over TCU, who is second at 300 (+16). New Mexico is third with a team score of 314 (+30), followed by Colorado State (315), UNLV fifth (317), Wyoming sixth (321) and San Diego State seventh (324).
For the second straight year, the league championship is being played at Entrada at Snow Canyon, a par 71, 6,210 yard course.
"I'm extremely proud of my team for the way they fought today," said second-year Cowgirl head coach Josey Stender. "There were some bad holes and some nerves, but overall they hung in there, kept attitudes positive and they all feel like they have room for improvement on this course.
"The USGA recently re-rated Entrada and made the penalties higher on several holes. That, combined with the yardage that was added in preparation for the upcoming NCAA Regional event, has made this course more difficult.
"However, the more you play this course, the more comfortable you become with club selection and shot placement, and that should help us as the tournament progresses. Other MWC schools have already played an event here this year and this is our first crack at it, so we should benefit more than some other teams from this first round experience. We just need to focus on playing one shot at a time and not worrying about upcoming holes or shots."
Big numbers prevented the Cowgirls from being in even better position after 18 holes. UW scored double bogey on 13 holes, compared to only eight birdies. The 18th hole was especially tough on Wyoming, with wind steering shots into a fairway bunker and creating a difficult end to the round. As a team, the Cowgirls were seven-over-par on that hole. The rest of the field faired no better on number 18, as that hole played the most difficult on the course with an average relative to par of +.82.
Wyoming junior Laura Mengelkamp, who posted a team-best score of 76 (+5), is part of a log jam at the top of the leaderboard. She is tied for sixth place with six others in the field of 35 players. Mengelkamp carded three birdies on the difficult Entrada course, but did have two double-bogeys which dropped her four shots off the lead.
UW also counted a round of 81 (+10) from freshman Sarah Fogerty and marks of 82 (+11) from junior Lindsay Bauknecht and freshman Jonelle Martinez towards their team total. Sophomore Mikala Henzlik carded a difficult 84 (+13).
Individually, BYU's Rachel Newren and TCU's Catherine Matranga are tied for the lead at 72 (+1). BYU's Juli Erekson sits one stroke behind the leaders in third place with 73 (+2).
36 holes remain to be played at the championship, 18 each day, Friday and Saturday, with tee times at 9:30 a.m. (MT).
Wyoming will be paired with San Diego State during second round action, while UNLV will be grouped with Colorado State. BYU, New Mexico and TCU will be the final group.