SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A strong finish made a statement – University of New Mexico women’s golf is a top-10 team nationally in 2023.
And it was so close to perhaps even something greater.
UNM’s strong fourth round at Grayhawk Golf Club – 1-under on Monday – pulled the Lobos into a tie for ninth place at 11-over par for 72 holes of stroke play.
The eight teams above the Lobos, who tied for ninth with Arizona at 11-over, qualify for match play beginning Tuesday. The first of those, Stanford, finished at 19-under – paced by star Rose Zhang. She shot a bogey-free, 4-under 68 on Monday to become the first women’s golfer to win consecutive national titles and tie the NCAA record for wins in a season.
The last of the top eight teams – the one UNM tried valiantly to catch – was Pepperdine, which earned the final quarterfinal berth at 8-over, three strokes ahead of the Lobos.
“They battled today right to the end,” said UNM coach Jill Trujillo, whose team, at various moments, was tied for eighth during the fourth round. “We had a few bogeys late in the round and bounced back with eagles. What more could you ask for?”
Great run at Grayhawk ends with a T-9th finish. First top 🔟 at #NCAAGolf for the Lobos since 1998. #GoLobos pic.twitter.com/zZT8Iu6JbT
— UNM Women's Golf (@UNMLoboWGolf) May 23, 2023
It’s the best NCAA finish for New Mexico since tying for eighth place in 1998. At Grayhawk, UNM shot the best three rounds at an NCAA Championship in program history – 1-under during the first and fourth rounds and even-par in the second round.
Lauren Lehigh shot UNM’s low round Monday at 2-under 70, highlighted by an eagle on No. 7. She tied for 21st individually at 1-under.
Jenny Lertsadwattana was UNM’s top individual finisher at 2-under, tying for 18th after a 1-under 71 on Monday. It’s the best individual finish at NCAAs by a Lobo since Jodi Ewart tied for 15th in 2010. Lertsadwattana and Lehigh are the third and fourth players in school history to finish a NCAA Championship under par, joining Ryley Webb (1-under in 1998) and Caroline Keggi (3-under when she won the 1987 NCAA individual title).
Myah McDonald (tied for 55th) shot 1-over on Monday, as did Maria Caparros Levin. She tied for 70th as did Lisa-Marie Pagliano, who carded a 78 on Monday.
“This team has proven they are really great golfers and they earned a lot of respect this week from other teams,” Trujillo said. “Every final round we have had recently, they have competed and shot a low score. Today was no different and it was fun to watch. I can’t say enough about this team. They make straight A’s, they play great golf and they love each other. They fought for each other again today and that makes me so proud to coach them.”
Zhang finished at 10 under to match former Arizona player and LPGA Hall of Famer Lorena Ochoa’s NCAA records for wins in a season (eight) and career (12). Her 12 wins breaks the Stanford record for men or women, held by Tiger Woods and three others.
Zhang helped Stanford secure the top seed heading into Tuesday’s match play in its bid to win consecutive national titles.
(Team scores, individual leaderboard)