Aztec women’s golf preps for regionals

by Rafael Avitabile, Staff Writer

The San Diego State women’s golf team is set to tee off in the NCAA St. George Regional at the Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club in St. George, Utah on May 7. SDSU is slated as the No. 7 seed in the West region after its Mountain West Tournament win earned the Aztecs one of 29 automatic bids to the tournament. The win was their first MW title in program history.

SDSU, ranked No. 25 by Golftstat, will be one of 13 programs in the 24-team field recognized inside of the nation’s top 50. This includes first-ranked University of Southern California, No. 8 University of Arkansas, No. 9 University of Virginia and No. 22 University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

At the end of 54 holes, the top six teams and top three individuals, not already advancing with a team, will qualify for the NCAA Championship Tournament, May 22-27, at Concessions Golf Course in Bradenton, Florida.

The Entrada features 6,255 yards of ryegrass nestled underneath the sunburnt mountains of Southwestern Utah. Accuracy off the tee and on approach will be key, especially to begin the round as six front-nine holes present water hazards. The par-71 track was designed by World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Johnny Miller.

Aztecs head coach Leslie Spalding, the 2015 MW Coach of the Year, has led SDSU to the regional tournament for the third time in four years. Last spring, Spalding’s squad finished in a tie for 22nd place in a field of 30 teams. SDSU has never placed better than 15th in eight regional bids.

Junior Emma Henrikson—ranked 60th individually by Golfstat—will tee off with the first group, as usual. Henrikson’s scoring average has fallen 1.08 strokes since it was capped at 74.5 at the end of 2014. With a win at the Ptarmigan Ram Classic, and two more top-five finishes under her belt this season, Henrikson will be the Aztecs’ tone-setter. The first team all-conference Aztec from Malmö, Sweden fired rounds of 75, 72 and 70 on her way to finishing tied for fourth place at the MW Championship.

Freshman Mila Chaves from Asunción, Paraguay, has come on strong as the season has winded down. The exclamation point of Chaves’ season thus far came at the conference championship where she rallied to force a sudden death playoff with sophomore Manon Molle’ of the University of New Mexico. Molle’ claimed the individual victory with a birdie on the first playoff hole(April 22). Chaves carded a split of 66,74 and 70 at the conference championship to bring her stroke average down to a stellar 73.83. She was named to the Second team All-Mountain West and is now ranked 90th in the nation by Golfstat.

Chaves’ second-team all-MW teammate, sophomore Sirene Blair, will be pacing the fairways in her home state of Utah for the first time in her collegiate career. Blair has finished inside of the top five three times this year, most recently at the Bruin Wave Invitational in early March.

Senior team captain Paige Spiranac’s best showing this season came at the conference championship where she tied for 14th place. Before then, Spiranac had never finished an event lower than 27th place. In 2014, she had a 10th-place finish and two more top-15 finishes. A postseason resurgence from the Aztecs’ team leader could be the piece of the puzzle that gets SDSU past the regionals and into the round of 12.

Freshman Georgia Lacey rounds out the SDSU starting five and joins Chaves as the only players in the quintet lacking regional tournament experience. Lacey fared well in her first taste of postseason action, carding rounds of 75, 78 and 78, which placed her in a four-way tie for 24th place.


The San Diego State men’s golf team also clinched the MW championship on Sunday, using a stirring final-round comeback to edge out UNLV. SDSU is currently prepping for its berth in the regional tournament in Connecticut on May 17.