April 21, 2013
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The UC Davis women's golf team shot a combined 4 under on the front nine of the San Luis Obispo Country Club course, helping the three-time defending Aggies open an eight-stroke lead after the first round of the Big West Championship on Sunday.
Defending medalist Beverly Vatananugulkit shot a 4-under 69 for an early three-shot lead over teammate Demi Runas (72), the reigning two-time Big West Player of the Year. The duo led all five Aggie players into the top 10, a group completed by senior Amy Simanton (73) who is tied for fourth, and freshmen Andrea Wong (75) and Betty Chen (76) who are tied for sixth and ninth, respectively.
The 16th-ranked Aggies fired a 3-under 289 team score, eight shots clear of second-place Long Beach State (297). UC Irvine (311), Cal State Fullerton (312), Cal State Northridge (318) and host Cal Poly (319) round out the top five.
UC Davis raced to its first-round lead after mastering the front half of San Luis Obispo Country Club. Wong, who opened with three consecutive birdies, was 4 under over the first nine holes, Vatananugulkit was 2 under and Simanton played them a shot below par.
"We got off to a great start on our front nine which gave the team a lot of confidence," said first-year coach Anna Temple. "We had a great practice round yesterday and were prepared to make good decisions both off the tee and on the greens. Beverly played a very good round today as did Demi and Amy. It was an all-around team effort with Andrea and Betty having some good looks today as well."
Vatananugulkit had five birdies on Sunday and didn't record a bogey until the 14th hole. She was already 3 under by that point and answered that bogey with two birdies over the last four holes. Runas was 1 over at the turn but then played the back nine two shots under par, picking up birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 15th holes to go along with seven pars.
Simanton had three birdies in her first seven holes and was even after 10 holes before finishing the day with eight consecutive pars. Wong's strong start included an eagle on the par-5 5th hole that helped go to 4 under. She gave five shots back before playing the last six holes just 1 over to come in with a 75.
Chen was one of three Aggies to post a trio of birdies on the front nine, helping her make her turn at par, later posting a 76 for the round.
Kassidy Teare, Chaewon Park and Shawnee Martinez of Long Beach State are each among the top six individuals to help the 49ers.
UC Davis is looking for its fourth consecutive Big West title and is aiming for its fifth team appearance at the NCAA Championships. The conference champion receives an automatic berth into the regional championship.
The Aggies will play the second round with Long Beach State and UC Irvine, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The 54-hole tournament concludes on Tuesday.
BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
San Luis Obispo, Calif. (hosted by Cal Poly)
San Luis Obispo Country Club
Par 73, 6,196 yards
18 of 54 holes
1. UC Davis, 289
2. Long Beach State, 297
3. UC Irvine, 311
4. Cal State Fullerton, 312
5. Cal State Northridge, 318
6. Cal Poly, 319
7. UC Riverside, 325
8. Hawai'i, 326
1. Beverly Vatananugulkit, UC Davis, 69