May 12, 2012
ERIE, Colo. - UC Davis junior Amy Simanton shot an impressive 1-under par 71 in Saturday's final round of the NCAA Division I Women's Golf West Regional at Colorado National Golf Club and narrowly missed an individual berth to the NCAA Finals after losing in a playoff for the final spot.
The top eight teams plus two highest-finishing individuals not on an advancing team secured berths to the national championships later this month in Tennessee. The 23rd-ranked Aggies, despite making a late run for one of the team spots, finished 12th.
Texas Tech's Kimberly Kaufman, who tied for eighth, earned the first individual berth while teammate Gabriella Dominguez and Simanton battled for the second spot after tying for 14th. Dominguez won the playoff on the first hole.
UC Davis, ranked 23rd, was looking to make the national finals for the third time in the past five seasons. Simanton was trying to become the second Aggie to earn an individual berth after former standout Alice Kim advanced and eventually tied for eighth in 2009.
The Aggies entered the day tied for 11th place and just three shots from eighth after opening the regional tied for 18th. They finished seven shots from eighth place with a three-day total of 33-over 897.
Oklahoma secured the eighth-place position with its final-round 289, finishing 26 over 890 for the tournament. Top-ranked UCLA (873) and LSU tied for the regional title at 9 over while Pepperdine (875), Colorado (877), Baylor (879), Stanford (879) and North Carolina (880) also earned qualified for the national finals.
Simanton helped bring UC Davis back into contention with an impressive 2-under 70 in Friday's second round and had another strong effort on Saturday. She finished 3-over 219.
"There are a lot of positives to take from this week," said head coach Anne Walker. "Amy played great and had a chance to qualify individually and, in addition, we had two freshman step up and finish 2-3 for us. That gives us great hope for the future."
Freshmen Blair Lewis and Beverly Vatananugulkit each had 74's on Saturday with Lewis tying for 26th at 5-over 221 and Vatananugulkit - the Big West medalist - tying for 72nd at 13-over 229. Junior Demi Runas finished with a 78, tying for 61st at 12-over 228 while sophomore Jessica Chulya also carded a 78, tying for 113th at 25-over 241.
North Carolina's Catherine O'Donnell shot a final-round 70 and finished 7-under 209 for a one-shot win over Austin Ernst of LSU.
UC Davis started on the 10th hole at the Colorado National Golf Club and Simanton wasted little time getting into red numbers. She birdied the par-5 12th and par-4 13th holes and had pars on the rest of the side to go into her final nine holes at 2 under. She had a birdie on the par-5 7th to help her finish with a 70.
Lewis, who like Simanton had a 70 on Friday, had two early birdies on the 14th and 15th holes to help move her to 1 under and had nine pars and three bogeys the rest of the way to post a 74. Vatananugulkit was 3 over after nine holes but had three birdies on her back nine to also bring her in with a 74.
Runas was 3 over on each side of the course, picking up a birdie on the par-4 4th, while Chulya had a birdie on her front nine as both players ended their tournaments with 78's.
The regional appearance marked the fourth time in five Div. I seasons that the Aggies have advanced to the tournament. They enjoyed another outstanding season in 2011-12, winning three tournaments including their third straight Big West title.
Demi Runas either won or shared medalist honors at two tournaments, Vatananugulkit captured the conference title and all five Aggies earned All-Big West recognition, including four on the first team. Additionally, Anne Walker was named the Coach of the Year for the third time.
All five UC Davis players will return for next season.
NCAA DIV. I WOMEN'S GOLF WEST REGIONAL
Erie, Colo. (hosted by Univ. of Colorado)
Colorado National Golf Club
Par 72, 6,575 yards
T1. UCLA, 290-296-287-873
T1. LSU, 291-290-292-873
3. Pepperdine, 297-299-279-875
4. Colorado, 297-301-279-877
T5. Baylor, 300-293-286-879
T5. Stanford, 287-293-299-879
7. North Carolina, 288-298-294-880
8. Oklahoma, 305 -296-289-890
T9. Texas Tech, 300-294-299-893
T9. California, 296-301-296-893
11. UNLV, 302-301-293-896
12. UC DAVIS, 305-295-297-897
13. Tulsa, 297-303-299-899
T14. Illinois, 296-302-302-900
T14. TCU, 302-303-294-900
T14. Iowa State, 302-302-296-900
17. San Jose State, 302-298-303-903
18 . New Mexico, 303-307-303-913
19. Denver, 304-311-300-915
20. Kennesaw State, 309-311-304-924
21. Missouri State, 314-307-307-928
22. Oregon State, 313-318-305-936
23. Northern Colorado, 311-324-306-941
24. Jackson State, 348-355-327-1030
1. Catherine O'Donnell, North Carolina, 70-69-70-209