Juli Erekson led BYU to its first Dixie Classic title in 17 years
ST. GEORGE -- During a blazing final round, No. 17 BYU pulled away from the field by 16 strokes to claim its first Dixie Classic title in 17 years at Entrada at Snow Canyon on Wednesday.
"The drought has ended; mission accomplished." BYU head coach Sue Nyhus said. "That's a long time and we're excited to see that come to an end."
Junior Juli Erekson and freshman Daphne Vines both went under par while senior Danielle von Arnim was even par during Wednesday's final round to lead the Cougars to their second team title of the season.
"The depth of our team was the deciding factor," Nyhus said. "To go even par as a team on this course in the deciding, final round was awesome. Our entire team came to play this week."
BYU held a six-stroke lead to start the day. After six holes Denver had closed the gap and tied the Cougars. The two teams remained tied through the turn before BYU turned on the magic and began pulling away on the challenging back nine. On the most difficult lava holes BYU was close to brilliant, pulling away for good. On the lava holes (holes 15-18) BYU was even par while TCU was four-over-par and Denver was nine-over-par. The Cougars had a final round 288 (even par) followed by TCU who finished 16 strokes behind BYU at 30 over par. Denver was third at 33-over-par while No. 8 Arizona was tied for fourth place with UC Irvine at 47-over-par. Arizona's Alison Walshe claimed the individual title by shooting a final-round 67 and winning by two strokes.
Von Arnim and Erekson both birdied eighteen to help lead the charge. Erekson caught fire and finished one-under-par during the last two rounds. She finished two-over and alone in third place, her second top-three finish of her career and her first this season.
"I really wanted to go under par today, and I knew if I could just finish even on holes 15-18 I would be in good shape," Erekson said. "Nati (Jimenez) and Rachel (Newren) really set the bar yesterday for this team and I just wanted to come out today and do something good for the team."
BYU finished with four of its top five golfers among the top 10 finishers, the true sign of team depth. Jimenez was once again solid during the final round as she finished 72-74-74--220 and at four over par. It was her fifth top 20 finish of the season as she ended the tournament tied for fourth place. Rachel Newren, who was tied for the lead going into the final round, finished the day with an uncharacteristic 77. Newren placed sixth overall at six-over-par.
True freshman Daphne Vines was once again impressive as she had a final round 71 and finished tied for 10th place, her first top 10 finish of her young career. Senior Danielle von Arnim bounced back from a difficult second round to shoot even on Wednesday and tied for 23rd place. BYU's team depth was a real strength this week as evidenced by the play of individual performer Ashley Childers. Playing as an individual, she finished tied for 25th place at 15-over-par while fellow individual performer Alexis Edwards finished tied for 37th.
"This was just a little practice round for the conference championship," Erekson said. "We all know we can do better than this. We want to be conference champions and know there are things we can do better when we come back here. Who knows by the time regionals come around we will be so low on this course it won't be funny."
Jokes aside, BYU will be in good position to qualify for the national championship when it hosts the NCAA West regional on this same golf course. It is also the site of this year's Mountain West Conference Championship April 19-21.
TEAM FINAL RESULTS
1 Brigham Young 295-295-288--878 +14
2 TCU 298-298-298--894 +30
3 Denver 298-300-299--897 +33
T4 UC Irvine 296-311-304--911 +47
T4 Arizona 303-307-301--911 +47
6 Colorado 304-307-303--914 +50
7 Nevada 318-300-301--919 +55
T8 San Diego State 311-310-309--930 +66
T8 Idaho 308-305-317--930 +66
10 Washington State 316-306-309--931 +67
11 California 310-320-304--934 +70
12 Boise State 309-309-317--935 +71
13 Colorado State 319-308-317--944 +80
14 Brigham Young (B)312-318-322--952 +88
15 Portland State 318-317-319--954 +90
16 Weber State 330-344-325--999 +135
BYU INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
3 Juli Erekson 76-72-71--219 +3
T4 Natalia Jimenez 72-74-74--220 +4
T6 Rachel Newren 72-73-77--222 +6
T10 Daphne Vines 78-76-71--225 +9
T23 Danielle von Arnim 75-83-72--230 +14
COUGARS PLAYING AS INDIVIDUALS
T25 Ashley Childers 77-78-76--231 +15
T37 Alexis Edwards 78-76-80--234 +18
T58 Camille Gardner 75-81-84--240 +24
69 Hannah Summerhays 82-83-84--247 +31
80 Shayla Forsey 86-87-92--265 +49
81 Alana Maiello 100-92-95--287 +71