ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Golfers regain momentum in time for a trip to North Carolina
The Lobo women’s golf team was dead in the water hazard, or nearly so. With a berth at nationals on the line, they’d gone as cold as the howling wind at the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ind.
Then, proving that golf really is a team sport, the Lobos brought themselves back from a ghastly start in the final round to finish fourth at the Regional.
They enter this week’s NCAA Women’s Golf Championships in Wilmington, N.C., coach Jill Trujillo says, ranked 17th and with growing momentum.
NCAA Women’s Golf Championships,
“Coming off winning the (Mountain West) conference championship and then finishing fourth at the regional, that’s a really good lead into the national championship for us,” she said.
Early in the final round at the Regional, all that momentum seemed to be slipping from the Lobos’ cold hands. They were 15 over par as a team through seven holes, dropping from sixth to 12th place. Only the top eight teams would make nationals.
Lobo ace Jodi Ewart wasn’t having one of her better days. The senior from England would finish with a 7-over 79 on the challenging Otter Creek Golf Club course, tying for her second-worst round as a Lobo. If UNM was going to make nationals, Ewart would need help.
At the turn, assistant coach Becky Dover spoke with urgency but with optimism.
If the Lobos wanted to make nationals, they’d have to pick it up. Fortunately, it wasn’t too late to do so.
“I made it a point after the front nine,” Dover says, “to speak with everybody and let them know we still had a lot of holes left to bring it back.
“They did a great job of doing that.”
They did so as a unit.
Sophomore Rebecca Hellbom had the Lobos’ best round of the day with a 77. The sophomore from Sweden was 4 over after six holes but 1 over the rest of the way.
Sarah Salvo, UNM’s No. 5 player, had five bogeys in her first seven holes but was 1 over thereafter, finishing with a 78. Her three-day total of 20-over 236 tied her for 35th place – her best finish, relative to the size of the field, this season.
Salvo, a sophomore from Glendale, Calif., said she’d been working on her confidence – not letting a bad hole, or even a string of them, affect her mentally.
During the final round at regionals, she said, early bogeys “just accumulated. I was like, well, you can’t do anything about it now, so you just have to keep playing. So I really didn’t think about it.
I was just thinking, ‘I hope everyone’s not having as hard a time as I am right now.'”
Everyone was, and Dover made sure the Lobos got the message: help yourself, help the team.
“Each (player) knows golf is an individual sport,” she said, “but they know how important it is to score for their team.”
Ewart, who despite her final-round 79 finished tied for eighth at the Regional, leads the Lobos into nationals. Trujillo, looking at the tournament field, likes the Lobos’ prospects.
“Only 18 of the top 25 teams in the country made it through (to nationals),” she says. “Pretty much, the top nine teams that are there, we’ve either beaten or tied head to head except for (Arizona State).
“So that (sets up) really well for us.”