Apr 192009
Authors: Justin Warren

The CSU women’s golf team rallied back after a disappointing first round that left the Rams in last place to finish the Mountain West Conference Championship in fourth place.

The Rams shot 26 over par as a team Thursday afternoon, placing the team 13 strokes out of first and in last position on the par-72, 6,027-yard Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, Calif.

However, a 19-over-par performance in Friday’s second round and a 12-over-par in the final round Saturday afternoon, CSU was able to move from the bottom of the chart to finish fourth among the seven MWC schools.

“For us to bounce back the way we did this weekend really says a lot about our team,” head coach Angie Hopkins said. “Especially with two freshmen in the lineup, it was great to see the team play so well over the last two days.”

New Mexico shot a commanding 39-over-par for the tournament to win their second straight MWC Championship.

TCU took home second place with a 53-over-par performance with UNLV only three strokes back in third shooting 56 over par as a team.

Rounding out the top five behind the Rams was BYU shooting 74 over par.

Despite her team finishing in sixth place at 78 over par, Jonelle Martinez of Wyoming took home the individual title with a five over par performance.

Freshman Brianna Espinoza led the Rams in strokes, tied for seventh place with BYU’s Jade Bollinger. Espinoza concluded the first round tied for third but fell to fourth after shooting 7-over and 4-over par in the final two rounds.

The final player finishing in the top 10 for the Rams among the 35 competitors was freshman Melissa Martin in ninth place, shooting 14 over par. Martin ended her first round in 31st position, 10 over par, and bounced back to shoot 3-over and 1-over par to pull herself up in the rankings.

Junior Natalie Stone, along with Martin, was the second factor in the Rams fourth place finish. Stone concluded the final round shooting 1-over par to finish in a three-way tie for 13th.

“Melissa and Natalie played incredibly well today, coming through with the two lowest scores of the round,” coach Hopkins said. “And, of course, having Brianna and Melissa finish in the top 10 was phenomenal to see. I am so excited for both of them.”

Junior Kasey Claussen, who was named to the nine-member MWC all-conference team for the first time in her career, came home tied for the 19th position with an 18 over par.

The final Ram on the scoreboard was senior Stefanie Ferguson, shooting 25 over par in her last appearance for CSU.

The young Ram squad finished out the season with seven top-10 finishes, four of which were top-fives, to give coach Hopkins her second MWC Coach of the Year Honors.

“I am very excited about our performance this weekend, and I am even more excited about the future the program,” coach Hopkins said. “For us to put together this type of season, and have four of our top-five returning next year is a thrilling prospect.”

The Rams’ season may not be over yet as they will have to await a possible NCAA tournament invitation for May 8-10. The NCAA will make their selections on April 27.

Golf beat writer Justin Warren can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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