April 12, 2014
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The No. 37 UC Davis women's golf team will try to keep its conference domination intact when it goes after its fifth straight Big West Championship, beginning Sunday at San Luis Obispo Country Club.
UC Davis will look to Betty Chen, two-time Big West Golfer of the Month, along with 2012 medalist Beverly Vatananugulkit, Andrea Wong, Paige Lee and Blair Lewis. The Aggies will play with Long Beach State in the first round, beginning their opening round at 7:30 a.m.
Competition continues with 18 holes on both Monday and Tuesday. The tournament is in San Luis Obispo for the fifth time in the past six years with this year's layout playing to a par-73. The eight competing teams got a good luck at the course with a practice round on Sunday.
The winner of the tournament earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Division I Championships which begin with regional tournaments next month. UC Davis has been to five regionals as a team since 2008 but have been represented by two players every year.
UC Davis returns three-fifths of the lineup that won last year's title by an impressive 29 strokes over Long Beach State. The Aggies, who were 5 over, rolled to the win by capturing the top four spots on the individual leaderboard. Former standout Demi Runas (-1) captured medalist honors while Wong (+1), Vatananugulkit (+4) and outstanding graduated senior Amy Simanton (+5) took fourth. Chen tied for 12th.
UC Davis is the fourth team in Big West history to win four consecutive conference championships. UC Irvine did it from 2005-08, New Mexico State achieved it from 1997-2000 and San Jose State won four in a row on its way to capturing 10 straight from 1987-96.
An Aggie has won medalist honors each year during its title running including Vatananugulkit's championship in 2012. They've had at least two players in the top five each year since 2010.
UC Davis is coming off an 11th-place finish at last week's PING/ASU Invitational which was loaded with seven top-10 teams. That ended a string of four consecutive tournaments with at least a top-six finish, including three in the top two. The Aggies have helped highlight their year by winning the Indiana Hoosier Fall Invitational last October.
Chen has a 73.2 scoring average to lead the team while Lee (74.9), Vatananugulkit (75.3), Wong (75.8) and Lewis (77.5) have helped provide solid depth.