Spalding’s squad seeks MW title

by Rafael Avitabile, Staff Writer

The San Diego State women’s golf team is back home in Southern California preparing for the Mountain West championship tournament next Monday at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. SDSU is looking to secure its first MW title in program history.

The Aztecs will head to the championship with a No. 23 GolfWeek ranking, the second-highest mark in the conference behind rival University of Nevada, Las Vegas, at No. 19.

San Jose State University, California State University, Fresno, and Boise State University are the only other MW programs inside the top 100 at No. 45, No. 67 and No. 86, respectively.

UNLV leads the conference with a 293.46 scoring average followed by SDSU at 295.62, SJSU at 296.04, Fresno State at 298.04 and Boise State at 298.83.

The other four conference teams have scoring averages upwards of 303, but by no means does that make any of them non-contenders. In 2014, when No. 43 SDSU and No. 45 UNLV were the only ranked teams in the field, the University of New Mexico won the title while SJSU finished in second.

Junior Emma Henrikson anchors the Aztec squad with two top-five finishes this season, including an individual win at the Ptarmigan RAM Classic.

UNLV senior Dana Finkelstein, ranked sixth in the country by GolfWeek, sits atop the conference in scoring average at 71.50 and is one of only two players in the conference with two individual victories. Rebel freshman Harley Dubsky is just behind Finkelstein with a 72.96 average, followed by senior Madchen Ly of Fresno State at 73.14, and then Henrikson at 73.57.

Since SDSU head coach Leslie Spalding joined the program for the 2011-2012 season, the Aztecs have yet to place outside of the top five at the conference championship. SDSU placed third in 2014, fifth in 2013 and third in 2012. Also, the top five of the tournament’s individual leaderboard hasn’t been without an Aztec since 2011.

The ladies of the MW will be challenged on the Dinah Shore tournament course at Mission Hills – the same track that LPGA Tour players navigate at the ANA Inspiration Tournament, which is one of five majors during the LPGA season.

Although SDSU didn’t fair well in its last event of the regular season, finishing in 12th place out of 15 teams, the Aztecs put together solid second and third rounds to limit the damage and move out of dead last. The Aztecs also lead the conference in team wins with three, so don’t expect them to fall under pressure of the big stage.

The championship tournament will begin on Monday morning, and the teams will play three rounds in three days.

The tradition at the ANA Inspiration is for the tournament winner to jump into the greenside water hazard on the 18th hole, Poppies Pond, and the winner of the MW championship will likely do the same on Wednesday afternoon. Follow all the action using the live scoring link provided on