Behind Finkelstein's Individual Win, Rebels Finish Fourth at NCAA St. George Regional, Qualify For NCAA Championship
ST. GEORGE, Utah - One of senior Dana Finkelstein's goals when she stepped on UNLV's campus as a freshman was to help her team earn a trip to the NCAA Championship tournament.
Four years and numerous individual accolades later, the goal was reached. On Saturday, the No. 22 UNLV women's golf team finished fourth at the NCAA St. George Regional, capturing a spot in the NCAA Championship, which will be played on May 22-27 at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.
Finkelstein, who ranks No. 20 in the country according to Golfstat, did more than help her team move on to the next round as she won the NCAA St. George Regional, becoming the third golfer in program history to win a regional. It was her third victory of the season and her fifth career win, which is the most in school history. She also became the third MW women's golfer ever to secure medalist honors at an NCAA Regional, joining former Rebels Sunny Oh (2003) and Therese Koelbaek (2008).
"I got off to a hot start today," Finkelstein said. "I knew if I kept it going we had a good shot as a team to qualify for nationals. This was probably the hardest course I've play on in my four years, but as a team we fought through it, and I'm extremely proud that we will be moving on."
Finkelstein entered the day one shot back of the leader, but captured the lead after opening her final round with back-to-back birdies. She sank three more birdies and finished the round at 4-under-par, one of the best single round performances in program history. Finkelstein was the only player to post a tournament score below par as she turned in a 2-under 211 (72-72-67) and finished five shots ahead of the field.
"It was fun to watch Dana this week," head coach Amy Bush-Herzer said. "She hit some great shots and made plenty of putts."
The No. 22 UNLV women's golf team, which has made 13 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances, will make their fourth NCAA Championship appearance in the program's 14 years. The team turned in a score of 43-over 895 (301-304-290) at the St. George Regional, which was being played at the par-71, 6,255 yard, Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club. The Rebels also become the first Mountain West squad since 2010 to qualify to the national championship tournament.
"This team represented UNLV very well this week," Bush-Herzer said. "They fought through some extremely tough conditions and played really well."
Southern California captured the team title, turning in a score of 28-over 880 (293-292-295). The No. 1 team in the country finished six shots ahead of Stanford, which finished at 34-over 886 (304-292-290). Arkansas finished third at 40-over 892 (306-296-290), and Virginia rounded out the top-five at 46-over 898 (308-296-294). California will also advance to the national championship after finishing sixth at 48-over.
Finkelstein finished five shots ahead of Arkansas' Alana Uriell (75-72-69) and Gaby Lopez (73-72-71), who finished tied for second. USC's Gabriella Then and Annie Park finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at 4-over and 5-over.
Also competing for the Rebels was freshman Mackenzie Raim, who tied for 20th at 11-over 224 (74-77-73). Sophomore Avery French tied for 46th at 17-over 230 (77-77-76), freshman Harley Dubsky tied for 50th at 18-over 231 (79-78-74) and senior Mayko Chwen Wang tied for 63rd at 20-over 233 (78-79-76).
A total of 18 teams and 96 individuals competed in the three-day regional.