Junior Rachel Newren led her team to the OSU Women's Invitational title, taking a second-place individual finish. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
CORVALLIS, Ore. (Sept. 14 ) -- The women's golf team opened the season in style by winning the program's first tournament since 2000 at the Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Ore., on Wednesday. BYU held on to a six-stroke lead after Tuesday's record-setting second round to claim the Oregon State Women's Invitational, finishing three strokes ahead of Oregon.
The Cougars finished ahead of three PAC-10 schools and another, UC-Irvine, that was ranked higher entering the tournament. BYU head coach Sue Nyhus called this a great day for Cougar golf and said she's excited for the future of the team.
"These guys are good," Nyhus said of her team members. "I think we're back on the map. We're very excited for our first win in a long time."
The victory marked the first team title since the Cougars tied with Michigan at a rain-shortened Lady Aztec Spring Invitational five years ago in San Diego.
Junior leader Rachel Newren took an individual lead into the final round and ended up in a tie for second, one stroke behind Oregon's Cathryn Bristow. Newren's 2-under 70 in Round 2 led her team to the lowest 18-hole total in BYU history, a 286 (-2). The previous record of 288 (+4) was set on a par-71 course in Sunriver, Ore. at the 2004 Mountain West Conference Tournament.
"We won because of a full team effort," Nyhus said. "The greens were very difficult today because of some of the hole locations, but we put the ball in a position where we could score."
The Cougars finished Round 3 with a 13-over-par 301, which was the third-highest team score of the round and good enough to hold off Oregon and host Oregon State, who shot 295 and 298, respectively, on the final day. BYU's second-round 286 was nine strokes better than Oregon's and Washington State's one-round totals of 295.
Sophomore Juli Wightman tied for sixth place overall after shooting 73 in the first two rounds and finishing with a 76 (+4) on Wednesday. Wightman and her teammates finished strong on the last five holes, averaging par to secure the victory.
BYU was also paced by juniors Alexis Edwards and Danielle von Arnim in the final round. Edwards finished in 18th place after a third-round 77 put her at 10-over-par for the tournament. The Cougars' most consistent improvement throughout the two-day event was shown by von Arnim, who went from rounds of 84 and 78 on Tuesday to a third-round score of 73 (+1).
Freshman Natalia Jimenez, playing in her first collegiate event, proved she is ready to compete at this level with her 22nd-place overall finish. She cut 10 strokes from her first-round score and finished the tournament with a 5-over 77.
BYU will next compete in the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational beginning Sep. 26 in Albuquerque, N.M. Nyhus said she is excited about the progress her team can make in upcoming tournaments.
"We're looking forward to challenging ourselves throughout the season," Nyhus said.
Fin. School Scores
1 Brigham Young Univ. 304-286-301--891 (+27)
2 Oregon, U. of 298-301-295--894 (+30)
3 Oregon State U. 296-301-298--895 (+31)
4 Washington State U. 295-301-308--904 (+40)
5 UC - Irvine 296-302-314--912 (+48)
6 Penn State Univ. 303-302-309--914 (+50)
7 Idaho, University of 307-303-305--915 (+51)
8 UC Davis 301-310-307--918 (+54)
9 Nevada, U. of 305-316-304--925 (+61)
10 Boise State Univ. 306-319-305--930 (+66)
11 Portland State Univ. 311-302-318--931 (+67)
12 Cal Poly 316-316-315--947 (+83)
13 UC - Riverside 322-314-312--948 (+84)
14 Portland, U. of 320-322-327--969 (+105)
15 Eastern Washington 327-327-320--974 (+110)
Fin. Golfer Scores
T/2 Rachel Newren 73-70-75--218 (+2)
T/6 Juli Wightman 73-73-76--222 (+6)
T/16 Alexis Edwards 77-72-77--226 (+10)
T/22 Natalia Jimenez 81-71-77--229 (+13)
T/38 Danielle von Arnim 84-78-73--235 (+19)