ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was a rough pair of rounds Friday for the New Mexico women’s golf team to open their Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational.
The Lobos struggled home in ninth place with a 24-over 608, 27 strokes behind leader Pepperdine at the par-73 UNM Championship Course.
“Home-course advantage is supposed to be home-course advantage,” Lobos coach Jill Trujillo said. “But we didn’t have very good course management.”
Individually, Manon De Roey paced New Mexico with a 4-over 150, including a 73 in the second round of the day.
It was Oregon’s Cassy Isagawa who turned in the top individual performance, playing the course like she owned it with a 8-under 138, including a sparkling 5-under 68 in the second round.
That helped the Ducks cut into No. 15 Pepperdine’s first-round lead, but heading into today’s final round, the Wave still owns a 4-stroke advantage after firing 1-under 581.
This is Pepperdine’s first tournament of the season and the team responded well, coach Laurie Gibbs said.
“They were just excited to get out and play,” she said. “I thought the course played. It seemed a little more firm than what we remember from the past but we made adjustments with our clubs.”
The Lobos were unable to make those adjustments, which left them frustrated, said senior Sammi Stevens, who finished with a 6-over 152.
“It was a long day,” she said. “The course played completely opposite of how it had been playing. It changed everything.”
With the recent rains, the course had been yielding and prone to giving up some low scores, she said.
But high winds Thursday night and Friday morning turned those soft, friendly fairways and greens into firm, difficult-to-read surfaces.
Stevens said she tried to play it smart, and that sometimes came back to hurt her.
On making the turn on her 15th hole, the 496-yard, par-5 10th, she was in a good position at the top of the hill with a clear shot to the green. She tried to leave it to the right but it drifted into the deep rough and did not surface. On re-hitting that second shot, she put it into the sand and struggled home with a double-bogey 7.
That hole was almost a microcosm for the way the Lobos played all of the par 5s, Trujillo said.
“We didn’t play the par 5s very well,” she said. “I think the team is very frustrated. We made a lot of mistakes but we still have one more day.”
Still, Trujillo said, the tournament was a good way for freshmen Manon Molle and Katerina Jaeger to break into the lineup.
“I was pretty happy with the freshmen and the way they played,” Trujillo said after they both carded 7-over 153s.
“I think they’re getting the experience they need,” she said. “But the whole team needs to be able to adjust to tournament conditions a lot faster.”