Women's Golf Starts NCAA Regional Play Thursday
May 8, 2012
The San Diego State women's golf team earned its third consecutive NCAA regional bid, as the Aztecs are one of 72 schools that will compete at one of three tournament sites, May 10-12. The Aztecs, who are making three-straight trips to the NCAA regionals for the first time in program history, are seeded No. 16 among the 24 teams headed to the east regional in State College, Pa., at the par-72, 6,253-yard Penn State Blue Course.
SDSU is only Mountain West Conference school that will participate in the east regional, however, four will be represented out west in Colorado with TCU, UNLV and New Mexico earning team bids and Colorado State's Brianna Espinoza getting an individual berth.
The Aztecs will play 18 holes each of the three days (54 total) with a practice round on Wednesday. SDSU will be paired with Kent State and Maryland for the first two rounds, teeing off Thursday from the 10th hole at Noon ET and beginning from the first hole at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.
The top eight squads and the low two individuals not on those teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA national championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., May 22-25. SDSU is seeking its first-ever trip as a team to the national championships.
Live scoring will be available for all three days on goaztecs.com, as well as golfstat.com.
Aztec Line-Up For This Week
First-year SDSU head coach Leslie Spalding will bring the same starting line-up that she used at the team's most recent outing, the 2012 MWC championships. Senior Malin Enarsson (Gothenburg, Sweden) and juniors Gina Clark (Murrieta, Calif.), Alessia Knight (Bologna, Italy) and Christine Wong (Richmond, B.C.) all played in the regional last year, while true freshman Amy Alston (Mission Viejo, Calif.) will be making her NCAA debut.
Enarsson, Clark and Wong have competed for the Aztecs in each of the last two NCAA regional appearances. Enarsson's best finish was 12th in 2010, falling just one stroke short of forcing a playoff for an individual berth to the national championships. Wong and Clark also had their top performances at an NCAA regional in 2010, tying for 35th and 56th, respectively.
San Diego State is one of 17 teams in the NCAA East Regional field ranked in the top 50 nationally by golfstat.com. Of those 17 schools, seven are in the top 20, including No. 2 Alabama, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 8 Duke, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 15 Florida, No. 18 Arizona and No. 20 Oklahoma State.
The Aztecs are seeded 16th in a regional for the third consecutive campaign and are ranked 47th nationally by both Golfweek and golfstat.com. The team was rated three spots higher by Golfweek and one spot lower by golfstat.com at this time a year ago.
San Diego State has played in at least one tournament earlier this season against only 10 of the other 23 schools in the east regional.
A Look At The Course
The host site of the 2012 NCAA Women's Golf East Regional is the par-72, 6,253-yard Penn State Blue Course, in State College, Pa., on the southwest edge of campus.
The Blue Course is one of two 18-hole courses located on campus, which are both named after the Nittany Lions' school colors. The Blue Course was first designed by the golf architecture firm of Harrison & Grabin in the late 1960s and was renovated in both 1994 and 2006. It is the home course for both Penn State golf programs.
This is the first time since 2010 that the Aztecs have played in the Eastern time zone. That year, SDSU traveled to Columbus, Ind., for the NCAA Regional in early May and also had a trip to Miami Lakes, Fla., for the spring-opening Qdoba Invitational.
SDSU In The NCAA Regionals
The Aztecs are making their third consecutive trip to NCAA regionals and sixth overall as a team. SDSU earned team bids in 1999 (18th), 2001 (15th), 2004 (15th), 2010 (t-15th) and 2011 (17th). The program has also been represented by an individual golfer in 1996, 1997 and 2000.
This is the second time the Aztecs are participating in the east regional (also 2001), after traveling to the central regional in 2010 and participating in the west in 2011. Including this season, the program will have competed in nine different cities and eight different states in its NCAA regional history.
Individually, Heather MacRae boasts SDSU's best individual finish when she tied for 11th place with a 220 in 2004, while current senior Malin Enarsson is second with her 12th-place performance in 2010.
Aztec Leslie Spalding will be making her first trip to the NCAA regionals as a head coach.
Rewind: SDSU At 2011 NCAA West Regional
The San Diego State women's golf team finished out its 2010-11 campaign with a 17th-place finish at the NCAA West Regional in Auburn, Wash. The Aztecs completed the three-day, 54-hole event with a 74-over 938 at the par-72, 6,266-yard Washington National Golf Club.
Malin Enarsson was SDSU's top finisher at the NCAAs for the second season in a row, ending up in 41st in the final standings with a 229. Stephanie Arcala completed her Aztec career with a 58th-place showing at 17-over 233.
San Diego State's remaining three golfers each posted scores in the 80s over the final 18 holes, as Alessia Knight fired an 82 to tie for 84th, Gina Clark logged an 80 to tie for 93rd and classmate Christine Wong was never able to get on track with an 84 to tie for 106th.
Wong Named 2012 MW Player of the Year
San Diego State junior Christine Wong became the first Aztec to be named Mountain West Golfer of the Year after leading the league in stroke average and finishing second at the 2012 conference championships.
Wong also was tabbed to the nine-player all-conference squad for the third year in a row and was joined by teammate Malin Enarsson, who is now a two-time all-Mountain West honoree. The pair both started their careers by picking up the conference freshman-of-the-year award.
Wong and Enarsson are the first Aztecs to be named to the Mountain West Conference team on multiple occasions in the 13-year history of the league. SDSU's previous all-league honorees are Heather Rollo (2000), Jo Clingan (2001), Jenna Wilson (2004) and Stephanie Arcala (2011).
Last Time Out: Aztecs Take Third At MWC Tourney
San Diego State posted its best league finish in a decade, as the Aztecs placed third at the 2012 Mountain West Conference championships, which took place April 20-22, at the Wigwam Golf Course in Litchfield Park, Ariz.
SDSU fired a 47-over 911, which was two strokes behind second-place UNLV and seven in back of TCU, which claimed the title for the second year in a row. The Aztecs' last top-three finish at the Mountain West tourney came in 2002, when they were the runner-up.
Junior Christine Wong just missed becoming the first San Diego State women's golfer to win medalist honors at the MW championship, falling on the fourth playoff hole to TCU's Sanna Nuutinen.
Wong's 54-hole score of 1-over 217 is the second lowest by an SDSU golfer at the MW championships, while she is the second Aztec to finish as tournament runner-up, joining Heather Rollo who tied for second in 2002.
Besides Wong, Malin Enarsson was the second Aztec in the top 10 on the individual leaderboard with a career-high sixth-place finish at 9-over 225. Freshman Amy Alston tied for 16th place with a 232, including a final-round 78, in her MW tournament debut. Juniors Gina Clark and Alessia Knight both moved up one spot in the final standings over the final 18 holes, coming in 24th and 30th, respectively.
Aztec 11-12 Highlights
The San Diego State women's golf team has finished in the top five in six events to start the Leslie Spalding era.
The Aztecs produced solid results in the fall portion of the schedule, taking fifth at the opening 18-team Dick McGuire Invitational and following it up with a victory at the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate in early October. SDSU won that event by coming back from a 10-stroke deficit with just 18 holes to play and ultimately finished first by 16 strokes at 24-over 888. Junior Christine Wong claimed medalist honors with her even-par 216 and the team had three others place in the top 10.
After a challenging field at Stanford, the Aztecs closed 2011 with a runner-up performance at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, vaulting two spots in the final round.
The spring campaign thus far has been highlighted by the team's third-place finishes at the Mountain West Conference championships and the UNLV Spring Invitational, a fifth-place performance at the Bruin Wave Invite and Wong's second individual title of the year at the latter event.
As a testament to their strength of schedule, the Aztecs enter the NCAAs with the second-highest national ranking among Mountain West schools at 47th.
Individually, Wong boasts the best stroke average in the league at 73.79, and finished in the top 25 in each of her first seven tournaments of 2011-12. Senior Malin Enarsson has placed in the top 20 five times and has the second-best stroke average at 75.28 and junior Gina Clark has two, top-10 performances to her credit.
The top eight teams and the low two individuals not on one of those teams will advance out of the NCAA East Regional to the national championships, scheduled for May 22-25, at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.
Twenty-four total teams and six individuals will play 72 holes of stroke play over the four-day period to determine both the team and individual national champions.
SDSU has previously sent an individual to the NCAA national tournament, but has never qualified as a team.
Spalding In First Season As SDSU's Head Coach
Leslie Spalding, who was hired last August, is in her first season as head coach of the Aztecs.
The Billings, Mont., native played on the LPGA Tour from 1996 to 2005, competing in 215 events with seven top-10 finishes and more than $600,000 in prize money. After completing her playing career, she served as the head women's golf coach at Montana State from 2007-11.
As a collegian, Spalding attended the University of Alabama on a golf scholarship from 1987 to 1991 and earned her bachelor's degree in telecommunication/film with a minor in marketing in 1992.