April 23, 2013
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Sixteenth-ranked UC Davis left no doubt about its dominancy at the Big West Women's Golf Championships, posting a 29-shot win behind medalist Demi Runas at San Luis Obispo Country Club for the Aggies' fourth straight conference title.
Runas led a 1-2-3-4 UC Davis finish in the player standings, finishing 1-under 218 for her first title at the league tournament. Freshman Andrea Wong (+1) was second, defending medalist Beverly Vatananugulkit was third (+4) and senior Amy Simanton placed fourth (+5).
Freshman Betty Chen rounded out an impressive Aggie tournament, finishing tied for 12th (+11).
UC Davis steamrolled to a 4-under 288 total on Tuesday, finishing 5-over 881 for the week and beating second-place Long Beach State (+34) by 29 shots. It was the most dominant of the Aggies' four straight championships, eclipsing a 19-stroke victory two years ago. Each of UC Davis' four championships have been by at least 13 strokes.
This year's was the largest margin of difference at the conference championship since New Mexico State won the 2000 tournament by 40 shots. UC Davis' three-round total of 5-over 881 is the third-lowest score in the history of the tournament, trailing the record 867 by the 2011 Aggie team and the 871 tallied by New Mexico State in 1999.
"The team had a great under-par round to conclude the tournament," said first-year coach Anna Temple. "This really was a team effort with everyone contributing. Winning conference was one of our goals from the beginning of the season and it's a great accomplishment for our program to have won our fourth consecutive championship. We will take this win in and get right back to work to prepare for the NCAA Regionals."
Runas, the two-time reigning Big West Player of the Year, is the fourth straight UC Davis player to claim first place at the Big West Championships, joining Vatananugulkit (2012), Alice Kim (2011) and Chelsea Stelzmiller (2010).
"Winning Big West for the fourth straight year means so much to both Amy and I," Runas said. "Looking back over the last four seasons, it's really amazing to see how much the program has grown. We wanted to keep building on the successes of players before us, and now we've established ourselves as a top program in the country.
"Taking the individual title my senior year is more than I could ask for in terms of capping off the season, but what's more rewarding for me is to see the other girls taking top honors as well," she added. "It shows that the Aggies will continue to be a force to be reckoned with, even after mine and Amy's time at UC Davis has come to a close."
The Aggies owned a 16-shot lead entering the final day but used a 2-under 70 from Simanton, a 72 from Andrea Wong, and rounds of 73 from Runas and Vatananugulkit to shoot 4 under for the day. Chen, in her first Big West appearance, had a 77 on Tuesday.
UC Davis was a combined 4 under on the front nine of the San Luis Obispo Country Club course while taking an early lead on Sunday. Tuesday, it was the Aggies' turn to take over the back nine as the team's five players played it 4 under. Wong and Simanton were each 2 under over the final nine holes while Runas and Chen were even.
UC Davis' performance on the back nine helped swell a lead that was 16 strokes at the start of the day to nearly 30 by the end.
Runas, a senior from Torrance who is ranked 13th nationally by Golfstat, won her third career collegiate tournament after capturing two events as a junior. She was steady on Tuesday, opening her day with a birdie on the par-5 1st hole and then adding another on the par-4 9th to help her make her turn even. A single bogey from then on was balanced by a birdie and seven pars as she posted her 73.
Vatananugulkit, who won the Big West Championship as a freshman in 2012, challenged once again after owning the first-day lead. She had three birdies in her final round to match Runas' score and finished just two shots out of first.
Simanton had the big round for UC Davis, however, improving her second-day score by an impressive 11 strokes. She did so with an 11-hole stretch that was among the best of the year. Simanton started with birdies on the 7th and 8th holes, picked up another on the 10th and then had an eagle on the par-4 13th. She covered that stretch 5 under before a bogey on the last hole ended the run but still brought her in with a 70.
Wong was 1 over after nine holes but then fueled her 1-under 72 with two birdies and seven pars on the back nine. Chen had four early birdies but ended her day with 10 consecutives pars on the difficult course.
UC Irvine (+46) finished in third place in the eight-team tournament while UC Riverside (+64) was fourth. Chaewon Park of Long Beach State was 7 over and in fifth place for the highest individual finish after the Aggie quartet.
The tournament championship was the 14th in the six-year history of the women's golf program and the first this year. UC Davis won an automatic berth into the NCAA Championships and will be making a team appearance for the fifth time.
The Aggies will open postseason play on May 5-7 at one of three regional sites. The West Regional will be contested at Stanford Golf Course.
BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
San Luis Obispo, Calif. (hosted by Cal Poly)
San Luis Obispo Country Club
Par 73, 6,196 yards
1. UC DAVIS, 289-304-288-881
2. Long Beach State, 297-312-301-910
3. UC Irvine, 311-307-304-922
4. UC Riverside, 325-311-304-940
5. Cal State Fullerton, 312-320-317-949
6. Cal Poly, 319-314-317-950
7. Cal State Northridge, 318-324-312-954
8. Hawai'i, 326-312-319-957
1. Demi Runas, UC Davis, 72-73-73-218
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at East-West Match Play
UC Davis defeats Nebraska in thrilling showdown
Aggies head to Wisconsin for
East-West Match Play