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Women’s golf: UNM preps for tough Branch/McGuire field

The champions are back, and the host New Mexico Lobo women are out for a better showing in the renewal of the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational, which begins today.

The Lobo golfers will battle 15 teams over 54 holes at the UNM Championship Course. Today the field plays two rounds, and Saturday, the final 18.

The opposition includes defending tournament champion Iowa State, which won with a three-round 886 in 2012. Meanwhile, the Lobos were out of the picture, shooting a 909 and finishing 10th. The Lobos won the tournament each year from 2001-03, but last won in 2008.

Manon De Roey tied for ninth place as the top Lobo finisher last year, and teammate Sammi Stevens tied for 13th place. Both are back in the UNM lineup today, along with fellow senior Sofia Hoglund, the individual winner in 2011. Stevens is coming off a runner-up finish at Colorado State’s Colonel Wollenberg Ptarmigan Ram Classic.

Coach Jill Trujillo is filling out the lineup card with Manon Molle and Katerina Jaeger. Lobo Kalyn Thayer also will play, but her scores will not count toward UNM’s total.

Other teams in the field: Colorado, including Jennifer Coleman, who ran away with an eight-shot victory last year; No. 15 Pepperdine and first-team All-American Grace Nal; in addition to Fresno State, Iowa, Nevada, UNLV, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, Texas Tech, UTEP, UC Davis and Wyoming.

Coleman tied the tournament record for 18 holes by firing a final-round 68 for her first collegiate win. She played the final 28 holes in 9-under par despite a bogey on the final hole.