Sept. 18, 2009
Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational Live Scoring
DAVIS, Calif. - UC Davis doesn't have a long history of women's golf but the Aggies are certainly building a storied one after just four highly successful years at the varsity level.
In that short time the Aggies have already captured several tournaments, finished as runners-up in their only Big West Conference Championship appearances, and have been represented at two NCAA Division I Championships.
With a strong group of returners set to be complemented by talented newcomers, UC Davis is hoping to keep the magical running continuing when it opens the 2009-10 season this weekend at the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational hosted by the University of New Mexico.
The tournament will be contested at the UNM Championship Course, familiar grass for the Aggies who made their inaugural appearance at the national championships in 2008 and then returned for their season-opener last year.
The 18-team field will play 36 holes on Saturday followed by 18 on Sunday. The course will measure 6,187 yards and play to a par-71. UC Davis will send three veterans in juniors Alice Kim and Chelsea Stelzmiller along with senior Kimberly Johnson. The trio will be supported by freshmen Amy Simanton and Belen Hernandez.
The tournament is the first of four this fall for the Aggies who will travel to the Ron Moore Intercollegiate at the University of Denver next week, the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown in late October and the Turtle Bay Collegiate Invitational in Hawaii in early November.
The six-event spring season will culminate with the Big West Championship in San Luis Obispo in mid-April with a hopeful bid to the NCAA Championships to follow.
UC Davis, under second-year head coach Anne Walker
, will attack the schedule with a roster featuring six returners including two - Kim and Stelzmiller - who each qualified for last year's NCAA West Regional. Three freshmen will also provide contributions.
Leading the way are Kim and Stelzmiller who head into their junior years after memorable summer seasons as amateurs that helped provide more highlights to their golfing careers.
Kim, who earned All-America honorable mention accolades last season after tying for eighth at the NCAA Finals, joined Stelzmiller by qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open in July. Kim also played in the U.S. Public Links Championship before meeting up with Stelzmiller later for the U.S. Amateur.
Kim led the team with a 73.4 average, posting a season-best tie for second at the Heather Farr Memorial Invitational at Colorado and a third-place finish at the Fresno State Lexus Classic. She earned a berth to the regional as an individual, punching her ticket to the finals with an eighth-place performance.
Stelzmiller also enjoyed an impressive season, earning her spot at the regional after averaging 73.7 strokes, second-best on the team. The junior from nearby Union Mine High School earned medalist honors at the UC Irvine Anteater Invitational and later tied for second at the conference championship.
Both Kim and Stelzmiller are two-time All-Big West honorees.
Johnson, along with Brittany Smith and Lauren Dobashi, is one of three seniors on the squad. Johnson had a top-35 finish at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate for her best finish of the year while Smith, who traveled to Asia as part of a collegiate all-star team this summer, tied for 18th at the opener at New Mexico in 2008 for her top start.
Dobashi, the Aggies' third qualifier for the U.S. Amateur, averaged 78.2 strokes during the 2008-09 season, coming on strong during the final month when she posted a trio of top-12 placings. She started with a tie for second at the Sacramento State Invitational, tied for 12th at Irvine and then was 11th at the Big West Championship.
Junior Katie Sisler has made big contributions to the Aggie program, including participating in the NCAA postseason during her freshman season when UC Davis stunned collegiate golf by qualifying for the national finals in just its first year of eligibility. She played in 10 events last year, tying for 28th at the Heather Farr Memorial to highlight her year.
Three outstanding newcomers will add to the Aggies' strong returing corps. Amy Simanton, from Lake Oswego, Ore., has enjoyed a standout career leading up to her start with UC Davis. She has finished either first or second in the last three Oregon state high school championships, captured the prestigious Oregon Women's Amateur Championship in June, and won the California State Fair Championship earlier this month in Sacramento just prior to joining UC Davis.
Belen Hernandez joins UC Davis after earning first-team all-conference and MVP honors at Golden Valley High School in Merced. Runas was a two-time Ocean League champion at Torrance High School while also earning league MVP accolades. She also qualified for the CIF-Southern Section and state meets as a senior.