No. 19 UC Davis takes Big West title
Kim earns low medalist honors, leads Aggies to championship
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. -- Senior Alice Kim took home medalist honors, sophomore Demi Runas finished third, and UC Davis won its second straight Big West Women's Golf Championship on Tuesday at Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Additionally, senior Chelsea Stelzmiller - last year's individual champion - placed sixth and sophomore Amy Simanton tied for 10th, giving UC Davis four players in the top 10.
The Aggies successfully defended their title while shooting a tournament-record 54-hole total of 3-over 867, breaking the previous mark of 871 set by New Mexico State in 1999.
"We are very excited about this victory," said head coach Anne Walker. "The conference championship is always very intense and the level of competition is raised. The team stepped up their game for this tournament and it paid off."
Alice Kim, meanwhile, finished at 9-under 207, setting a new record for individuals. Beth Allen of Cal State Northridge established the earlier standard after finishing at 209 in 2004. Kim finished five shots ahead of runner-up Monica Villareal of Long Beach State.
The 19th-ranked Aggies secured the league's automatic berth to the upcoming NCAA Regionals which will be held May 5-7 in Washington, Florida and Daytona Beach. Tournament selections for the 72-team field will be announced on Monday.
UC Davis will be making its third team appearance in the national championship during its four-year existence as a varsity program. It has been represented all four years after Kim and Stelzmiller earned individual nods in 2009.
The Aggies' 18-shot win this week was just one shy of its 19-stroke win last year when it won its first-ever Big West Championship. Long Beach State finished runner-up for the second straight year, posting a 21-over 885 for the three-day event.
Cal Poly was third at 31 over and was followed by UC Irvine (+37), UC Riverside (+58), Cal State Northridge (+62) and Cal State Fullerton (+83).
Kim, a 2009 All-America honorable mention, led the tournament after each round, finishing her impressive week with a 2-over 74 on Tuesday after opening with a course-record tying 66 on Sunday and a 67 on Monday. She played the front nine even on Tuesday while posting five pars and a birdie on the back, earning her first collegiate win.
Runas was fourth last year as a freshman, jumping a spot in this year's standings after carding four birdies on Tuesday and playing the back nine 2 under. Ranked 53rd nationally, Runas finished at 3-under 213.
Stelzmiller posted the Aggies' best score of the day with a 2-under 70, playing spectacularly on the back nine. She was 1 over at the turn but three straight birdies over the 10th, 11th and 12th holes sparked her to a 3-under 33 down the stretch. She finished at 5-over 221.
"Over the past three days, both seniors (Kim, Stelzmiller) showed what great leaders they are," said Walker.
Simanton, runner-up last season to Stelzmiller in a three-hole playoff, contributed a 75 on Tuesday with a birdie and 13 pars. She tied for 10th at 10-over 226.
Sophomore Jessica Chulya also had a 75, playing the final nine holes impressively at 1-under with eight pars and a birdie. She tied for 16th at 14-over 230.
The victory was the Aggies' second of the spring, joining a tournament title at the Fresno State Lexus Classic in March.
The Big West championship was the second for the women's golf program and the 10th either regular-season or tournament title for the Aggie athletics program overall.